According to the Donate Life America 2015 Annual Update, 50% of the US Population, age 18 and older are designated organ donors! This makes for the largest “membership” organization in the country. In Texas we have over 8.3 million registered donors, but that is still under the national average with only 38% of our population statewide!
In 2015, US transplants reached the over 30K milestone. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), approximately 58% of the transplants performed were kidney transplants, 23% liver transplants, 9% heart transplants, 7% Lung transplants, 2% Kidney-pancreas transplants and 1% other.
There are over 121,000 people (13,000 in the great State of Texas) on the transplant waiting list. An average of 22 people die each day while waiting for a life -saving organ transplant. Polls indicate that over 90% of Americans support organ donation. Our goal is to reach that number of registered donors.
Since 2014, The Ultimate Gift of Life Foundation has been active in Texas and New Mexico, helping to increase awareness about organ donation and to register new donors. With the use of the internet and Social Media, our efforts have gone beyond state borders across the U.S. and the world. We have over 550 followers on our Facebook page and our website has had over 5000 visitors since inception.
Whether through public events, speaking engagements or partnerships, we are educating people about organ donation. We encourage everyone to log into their State Registry to verify that they are on the list – regardless of whether there is a heart on your license or not. Medical professionals first check the registry to see if a patient is an organ donor, not the license. Time is critical in the donation process. The heart and lungs must be transplanted within 6 hours, the liver within 12 hours, pancreas within 18 hours and the kidney within 36 hours.
We encourage all registered organ donors to tell their loved ones about their decision to be an organ donor so that that their family can honor their wishes and be prepared.
Organ donation knows no age limit, ethnicity or religious preference. Ultimately, the doctors will evaluate a potential donor as to his/her eligibility and then find the best possible match.
The Texas Hill Country is filled with families and individuals who have been personally affected by organ donation:
- Mary Krebs from Fredericksburg shares how the loss of her son has blessed the lives of those who received his donation.
- Lari Blevins from Kerrville wants to thank the family in San Antonio whose son gave him a lifesaving heart.
- Pat Mossman from Kerrville is telling his story of being a living donor and giving his brother-in-law a kidney.
- Janet Bacon Everett from Kerrville is one of the longest living double lung transplants – and she also received a kidney!
- Wendy Holt from Harper gave her son a kidney and now her daughter is planning on a “transplant exchange” this summer for another kidney for her son and the donation of one by her daughter.
- Dorcella Sunday from Fredericksburg suffers from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKSD) and received a lifesaving kidney from her sister. Unfortunately both of her sons are currently on the transplant waiting list for kidneys.
- Brenda Lee from Kerrville just celebrated her first anniversary of her heart transplant!
- Wally Freeman has received a double cornea transplant – a great gift for this local historian who gives so much to the Hill Country community.
- Niki Pillatzke from Ingram received a new liver when she was 6 months old. She is now in Middle School as a healthy 13 year old.
- Susan Junkers from Bandera received a kidney from her husband and talks about the impact that 3 days per week dialysis had on her life.
- Kelli Griffith shares how grateful she is that her father received a heart transplant!
- Kent Bressler from Kerrville and PRMC is celebrating his 29th year with the gift of a kidney transplant from his brother. He works both locally and across the US as an advocate for securing living donors for kidneys.
- Melinda Birck from Harper is thankful every day for the gift of a liver!
- Ross Bigelow & his wife Elaine, from Fredericksburg share their story of his heart transplant, working in the local area and San Antonio through the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.
- Elda Perez is a liver and kidney transplant recipient. She shares her story beautifully!
- Julie Wood just joined our corps of volunteers. She has just come forward, willing to share her personal story of the loss of her 18 month old daughter, and how she lives on in other children.
- Katy Huth Jones is the recipient of a cornea transplant. As a writer, this gift of vision is so important to her profession!
- Kevin McCalla from Center Point received a kidney which involved his sister’s donation in a tri-state transplant exchange!
- Kim Oliver was able to help her brother with a kidney transplant.
There are many more of your neighbors impacted, as we collect new stories every day. And, there are hundreds of our friends who spend 15-20 hours per week on a dialysis machine – seriously impacting their quality of life.
April is National Donate Life Month. The Ultimate Gift of Life volunteers will be very busy all month with presentations and exhibits. We hope you will stop by to visit, confirm or register and bring along your friends and family.
Kerr County Market Days – Saturday, April 2nd 8am-3pm – Hill Co Youth Event Center
LBJ 100 Bike Tour – Saturday, April 2nd 7am-5pm – LBJ Historical Park – Stonewall
Hunt ColorRun & Pavilion GO – Sunday, April 3rd 2pm-4pm – Hunt, TX
Peterson Regional Medical Center – Monday, April 4th 9am-2pm – Kerrville, TX
PRMC Professional Building – Tuesday, April 5th 9am-12n – Kerrville, TX
PRMC Ambulatory Care Center – Tuesday, April 5th 12n-2pm – Kerrville, TX
Boerne Market Days – Saturday, April 9th 10am-5pm andSunday, April 10th 10am-4pm – Boerne Market Place
Hunt ISD Health & Wellness Night – Wednesday, Apr 20th – Hunt ISD
Please like us on Facebook to receive additional information on organ donation and upcoming events. If you have specific questions, contact Kristy Vandenberg at 830-792-9197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that you can “Turn a Time of Loss into a Time of Hope.”