Julie Kemp Pick
Recently the Chicago Tribune's cover story, Just a Liver Transplant Among Friendly Neighbors, by Michelle Manchir, told about how two residents in a suburban subdivision banned together to save their friend who needed a liver transplant. A 41 year old man who was suffering from the same rare liver disease that took Walter Payton's life, was fortunate enough to have one neighbor offer to "remove a portion of the donor's liver and place it in the ill person's body. The liver is the only interior organ that regenerates--typically in about three months."
When the surgeon found scarring on the first woman's liver, another neighbor offered to take her place. Now all three neighbors "share surgery scars above their belly buttons." They are all doing well, and the recipient is thankful to both women for risking their lives to save his. "They really don't act like it's anything special. They're just crazy, wonderful, amazing people."
Both my husband and my brother received organ donations. My husband underwent two cornea transplants, and my brother received a healthy kidney almost 6 years ago.
Due to a complicated medical history, my brother was told that he could be on a waiting list for 5-10 years or longer. Fortunately, he received a call a year and a half later on his 47th Birthday, from the transplant team. He owes his life to a cadaver donor.
Today, my brother is a healthy, energetic 52 year old, who often wears his nephews out whether they're lifting weights or playing basketball. He strongly believes that "everyone should be a donor regardless of religious beliefs, because you can save several lives by donating your organs. It's morally wrong to be a recipient and not a donor."
April is Organ Donor Awareness Month, and it's easy to become a donor by checking off the box when you renew your drivers license, or registering at Organdonor.gov. Our family is extremely grateful for the gifts we've been given, and are proud to pay it forward.
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