Giving the gift of life: An in depth look into organ donation - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Giving the gift of life: An in depth look into organ donation

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by Natalie Sparacio

CHICAGO (WAOW)-- Over 103,000 people in the United States are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

One of those people, happens to be my 20 year old cousin, Bill.

He's currently in the ICU at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, awaiting a heart and kidney transplant.

When a person is in need of an organ transplant, they're forced to fight for their life.

My 20 year old cousin, Bill, was the 8th newborn transplant in the country, and the 4th in the Midwest.

But now, he's in desperate need of a new heart and kidney... something that's put his life on hold...and forced him to find strength, as he looks to the unknown.

Bill's Mom, Ann Coon says..."it's hard enough to go through this once...as his mom, I hope to believe that God didn't bring us this far, to take him away... and the only way I'm getting through this is to believe Bill is going to survive."

The only way Bill and more than 100,000 others who are currently on the waiting list for organs can survive...is to receive a lifesaving transplant.

One of Bill's doctors, Dr. William Cotts, with Northwestern Memorial Hospital says, "... these are people are often having a miserable experience... they're feeling very poorly.. they're hospitalized and this is the only option.  A transplant would help them dramatically change their lives... it would help them go out, work, have normal lives, and it's a very significant change for them."

A significant change that's made possible through the selfless act of organ donation.

According to Donate Life America, currently only 38.2% of people are licensed donors.

The national goal... 50 percent.

In the Midwest region, the numbers are impressive... Indiana is at 72%...Minnesota follows with 69%... and Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin are all over 50%. The numbers sound promising, but they're not enough.

Ann says, "... they're not on a shelf, you have to wait for a donor.. you can't use a living donor for a heart... organs are needed."

In fact, 1 in 4 patients on the list doesnt receive their organs in time. The lack of organs may result from the misperceptions about organ donation.

To break it down, 51% of people incorrectly believe doctors may not try as hard to save their lives, and 44% of others think the U.S. is a black market in which people can buy or sell organs. This is simply not the case, whether you're an organ donor or not, you receive the same treatment.

Ann says, "... if you're going to die, why take those organs... if they're good organs you can give the gift of life... it touches the recipients family and mushrooms...it's huge...what one person's life can do...and how it can impact thousands."

This past year, 28,000 people were blessed with the gift of life. Those are just the actual patients... take a second and imagine how many lives are now touched on a daily basis.

Ann says, "... Bill is living proof of what could happen with organ donation... you can be healthy, you can lead a very full life...that life is possible...because people are being selfless."

For more information on how you can become a donor, or to learn more about organ donation go to:

Wisconsin Donate Life    http://www.wisconsindonor.org/

Donate Life Illinois          http://www.donatelifeillinois.org/default.htm

United Network for Organ Sharing: http://www.unos.org/

U.S. Government Organ & Tissue donation   http://www.organdonor.gov/

Donate Life America:   http://www.donatelife.net/

Kidney4Jake-(Jake, from Marshfield, 21 years old, waiting for a kidney)- www.kidney4jake.com  

Online Reporter: Natalie Sparacio

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