Augusta, GA –
Coverage you can count on begins with a call for organ donors. The need for organs is on the rise in Georgia and right here in the CSRA.
Kimberely Scott sat down with some people who share how their lives were changed, because someone gave the ‘gift of life’… in this special report.
Terry Elam, President of Augusta Technical College faced renal failure and needed a kidney transplant himself. He ultimately ended up on the organ donor list and had to go through a battery of tests.
Elam, “they scanned everything from my toenails to my hair and if they saw anything out of the ordinary, further test were done.”
“they let me know that nothing could be wrong with me before the operation except the kidney.”
In some cases when someone needs an organ, they have two options, they can either get it from a living donor or they can get on the waiting list to receive an organ from someone who is deceased. Tracy Ide works with Lifelink of Georgia, it’s the states organ recovery agency.
Tracy, “and when we have a potential donor we match the list by their blood-type, height and weight. we have to offer it to the one who is number one first, if for some reason they can’t accept it, then we go to number two, if for some reason they can’t we move on down the list.”
Lifelink of Georgia also covers Aiken and Edgefield counties. Tracy encourages those who want to be an organ donor, to make it point to discuss your decision with your family.
Dr. Carlos Zayas of Augusta University, is not Mr. Elam’s doctor, but he is a kidney doctor who specializes in transplants. Moments before our interview he was evaluating a potential donor, “now the donors go through more testing than the recipient because we don’t want a healthy person to become sick, so we put them through 3 times more testing to ensure their safety.
For Mr. Elam 2 friends and a family members went through testing to determine if they were a match to donate a kidney…..all failed for one reason or another…..except one.
Mr. Elam. ” and on my birthday the next year I got a phone call on my birthday from a donor a possible donor, that just uplifted my sprits. ”
Turns out that matching donor was his niece.
Mr. Elam, “who is only a few years younger than me and had a professional career, had a child that she was still raising at home, two grown sons.” “just knowing that there was someone who cared enough to make that kind of sacrifice, uplifted my spirits and at that point, life just had a different meaning.”
Tracey now works to connect donors to recipients, but as a 10 year old girl her mother was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and needed a heart transplant.
Tracy, “she received a heart transplant a week before I went to college. Just a couple years ago she went back into chronic rejection and needed a second transplant.
This time she not only needed a heart, but the issues with the heart caused her kidneys to fail. She was added to the waiting list for a heart and kidney transplant.
Tracy, ” after waiting in the hospital about 8 months, after being on the list for about 15, she received her transplant and is now doing amazing.” “I have my mom and my son has his grandmom.”
Dr. Zayas, not only treats patients, but at one time he was a patient himself. He is a bone marrow recipient times two….due to Non-Hodgkin T – Cell Lymphoma, “my brother gave me a bone marrow transplant and he was able to extend the life, not only do I enjoy my wife and my children, but I can also serve other people that need transplantation.”
As President Elam continues to educate young minds, he also recognizes the significance of his journey,”so I celebrate Augusta 5th just like a birthday because it was the day I received the gift of love.”
Tracy is still working to spread the word that organ donations impact families and communities, Tracy. ” you have the power to donate life, you have the power to make someone’s life better and can save their life.”
Dr. Zayas is following his passion of working with donors and recipients, ” it’s really an irony that a transplant physician goes through a transplant himself and that allowed me to understand what the patients go through, not so much the medical aspect, but the human aspect.”
Each case is different, each story unique….the common connection….someone was willing to give the gift of life, by giving of themselves.
One donor can potentially help 60 people, by donating kidney’s, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, intestines, bone, skin, heart valves corneas and tissue. More than 4,500 Georgians are actively waiting for an organ transplant.