Each year, April is recognized as National Donate Life Month to honor, celebrate and encourage organ donations. If you wonder what impact an organ donor can have on someone, please consider my story.
My personal story about organ donation began at a very young age. When I was growing up, my sister had a rare kidney disease, which required her to be on dialysis for many years. When I was 22 years old and she was 28, I donated a kidney to her. The surgery was a success, and I was discharged three days later.
My sister also recovered very well. She went on to get married and have a son who has now been accepted to medical school. She has lived a full life and has traveled all over the world, working full time until just this last year. This would never have been possible without the transplant. I feel so blessed to have been able to help her. My children grew up with their aunt, and we have had so many great family times together. We just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the transplant this past October!
Another way I’ve been involved in organ donation is through Taylor's Gift. Taylor Storch lost her life in a skiing accident while vacationing with family in Colorado in 2010. She was a close friend of my niece, Paige. Taylor's parents made the courageous decision to donate her organs. They have also started a foundation in her name, called Taylor's Gift. Since the accident, I have helped my niece achieve her Gold Award in Girl Scouts by registering dozens of people to be organ donors. Taylor’s organs saved a mother in Arizona, and two fathers in Colorado.
Lastly, my good friend, Nancy Cimino, was diagnosed with Myelofibrosis. She will need a stem cell transplant to cure this rare blood cancer. She has been promoting bone marrow donation through DeleteBloodCancer.org. Last summer, I registered myself along with some fellow friends and colleagues. She has not found a match yet, but has a potential match in public cord blood. Her nephew, who registered as well, did match someone else on the registry. Just a few months ago he donated and did very well. His selfless act saved a life.
There are more than 121,000 people in the United States waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and we can all help to save a life today. Mount Nittany Health is participating in this year’s Donate Life Campaign with the goal of increasing the number of registered organ and tissue donors throughout our community. I hope my stories will inspire people to donate in any way they can. For more information, visit donatelifepa.org.