Surgeon in the operating room

National Organ Donation Month

by Sheila Robison, Economic Security Team Member

Surgeon in the operating roomSince August 1, 2008, organ donation has become an important subject to me as my cousin underwent a double lung transplant at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. There are many reasons why one would need to do such a surgery, and those reasons mainly pertain to longevity of life. In my cousin’s case, during the spring of 2007, he was employed in South Korea where the “yellow dust” infiltrated his lungs causing damage that was irreversible. His doctors sent him to Cleveland Clinic, which lead to the decision to do a double lung transplant in order to save his life. He accepted this treatment and was placed on “the list.” Our family will forever be grateful for the chance of life that happened the day that match was made and the successful transplant was completed. We experienced the gift of life through organ donation.

Transplant hospitals are amazing. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing:

[A] transplant hospital adds a patient’s medical information into UNOS’ computer system. The patient is not immediately placed on a ranked list. When a deceased organ donor is identified, UNOS’ computer system generates a ranked list of transplant candidates who are suitable to receive each organ. Factors affecting ranking may include blood type, tissue type, medical urgency, waiting time, expected benefit, geography and other criteria.

Currently, 123,000 men, women, and children are awaiting organ transplants in the United States. Anyone can be a potential donor, regardless of age, race, or medical history. Organ tissues that can be donated include heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bones, and heart valves. The demand for organs far exceed the supply. Just 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives! Up to 22 people each day die while waiting for a transplant. Let me urge each reader to be a life-saver and sign up to be an organ donor today.

Due to the severity of medical issues that surrounded my cousins transplant in 2008, there was damage to his heart. He accepted an opportunity for a second transplant and was fortunate to survive a double lung and heart transplant on February 20, 2012. My cousin was known as the miracle man. He lived to see the birth of his first granddaughter and walked his youngest daughter down the aisle in Disney World for a magical wedding of her dreams. The gift of life continued.

Sadly, my cousin lost his battle for life on November 28, 2015. He had gained 7 years; these were precious years to him and his family. As I recently spoke with his wife, she commented that he once said “he would do it all over again.” Please consider organ donation as a primary concern in your life and spread the word.

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