Four years has rolled around, and I recently had to make a trip to the Photo License Center to get a new picture taken for my driver's license. It's a ritual I do not look forward to since I look older in each photo, but it is a necessary task to complete. When my number was called to come forward, I had to answer a series of questions on a touch screen regarding my voter registration and designation as an organ donor. I have always been a designated organ donor since it would give me satisfaction to know that I have helped another person with a life saving gift should I not be around anymore. But never was it more relevant and personal than this year when I was asked that question and I responded, "Of course I'm an organ donor!"
This year, my son has end-stage liver disease from the auto-immune disease Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis which he was diagnosed with 12 years ago. His disease has been managed well through medication, routine blood work, colonoscopies, and endoscopies and he has lived a full life. In January of this year, his liver started to fail and it was determined that he needs a transplant. A donor liver can come from a cadaver, but there is a long waiting list and my son will become sicker the longer he waits.
What some people may not realize is that for bone marrow, kidneys, and, yes, livers, live donors can also be used. My son's condition qualifies him for a live donor, where the right lobe of the donor's liver would be transplanted into him and the donor would keep their own left lobe. The liver is the only organ in the body that regenerates and will grow back to 80% of its size within 2 months, eventually growing to the size that the body needs for both the donor and the recipient.
Unfortunately, my age and other health conditions disqualify me from consideration as a donor. My daughter and two other people have been screened as live donor candidates for my son and have all been rejected. Another possible live donor is going through the screening process now, and an additional person has offered to start screening. It takes time and patience to wait for a donor to be found. In the meantime if my son becomes too sick, the window of opportunity for a live donor closes and only a cadaver liver will work. Many people on the waiting list are much sicker than my son. If more people would designate themselves as an organ donor, it would save many lives not just for those who need liver transplants, but for those who need other organs as well.
My son is 32 years old, an intelligent young man who works as an electrical/ computer engineer for the Army as a civilian. He has a bright future ahead of him. He is married and has a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year- old son. His greatest wish is to live to see his children grow up! Please give the gift of life and designate yourself as an organ donor on your driver's license! The life you save could be someone in your own family, your neighbor, or someone with so much to live for like my son.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom