CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The holiday season is a time of giving.
Giving was celebrated at Charleston Area Medical Center on Monday in the CAMC Kidney Transplant Center. Living kidney donors and patients who have received kidney transplants, surprised current patients waiting on a transplant with care packages.
“This is so important because Christmas really is the season of giving and what better way to give back then to consider being an organ donor,” Katelynn Metz with the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), said.
“These people are going out and showing how amazing organ donation is. They are living, breathing testaments to why it is so important. We have a living donor here who has already given his kidney to someone who he didn’t even know before the surgery. We have a gentleman here whose wife was able to give on his behalf. They are such testaments of giving and what better time of the year to celebrate giving then now.”
CORE and volunteers from Donate Life West Virginia walked the halls in the center with goodies for patients. The care packages were filled with games, puzzles, blankets, hand sanitizers, a Donate To Life bag with the organization’s mission on it, and much more.
“It’s very helpful to have some comfort when you are faced with this sort of situation,” Eric Claus, a CAMC patient and care package recipient, said. “It’s nice to be somewhere that has a caring attitude instead of a cold and clinical outlook on the whole thing.”
One of the volunteers was Brian King of Charleston. In January, King was the recipient of a new kidney and part of the first ever living donor “paired exchange” in West Virginia. An exchange of that nature is one of the few options a patient needing a transplant has. Metz noted anyone wanting to give has the options of being a living donor, signing up at donatelife.net, or at the DMV to become an organ donor.
“It’s reassuring to speak to other people who have successfully gone through it,” Claus said of talking to King. “It’s also reassuring to see that there are people willing to step up and donate kidneys because it is a big need in the state and in the country.
“People that don’t have that living donor sometimes wait years before they can get a kidney so it is really important that people step up and donate kidneys, if possible.”
Claus said he has been waiting for a transplant since he was diagnosed in 2012 and is on two wait lists. According to Metz, there are 488 people in West Virginia that are waiting for a kidney transplant. The CAMC Kidney Transplant Center is the only kidney transplant center in West Virginia.
“People who are waiting for kidney transplants have a really decreased quality of life,” Metz said. “They are going to dialysis, two or three times a week. When they get a kidney transplant, all of that changes. They are allowed to go out, get jobs, have normal lives again. It’s really a second chance at life for these people, if they can get a transplant.”