BRIDGEPORT, W. Va. — This Valentine’s Day the Center for Organ Recovery & Education, along with hospitals around the state are celebrating National Donor Day.
Juanita Alfred, R.N., critical care education and supervisor at United Hospital Center said they are encouraging individuals to show their love for others by making a Pledge for Life by becoming registered organ, tissue and cornea donors.
“There’s a need for donation. There are over 120,000 people every day who are waiting for donation, they’re waiting for organs.”
According to CORE, one donor can save up to eight lives. One such life belongs to Lost Creek resident Dr. Cindy Osborne.
“I was an organ donor, never anticipating being a recipient.”
Osborne was diagnosed with and idiopathic cardiomyopathy, meaning her heart quit working adequately, resulting in congestive heart failure. After failed treatments and medications, she was put on a heart transplant list and uncharacteristically only had to wait six months before a donor was found and the surgery took place in 2009.
Her condition improved instantaneously.
“Immediately I noticed a difference,” she said. “I remember waking up in the cardiac care unit being able to breathe. So, that was my first recollection upon waking up.”
Osborne’s heart was donated by 22-year-old man from Georgia who passed away in a car accident. He had signed to be an organ donor when he received his driver’s license and instructed his family of his wishes.
She and the family were able to meet and learn about one another. They still keep in contact long-distance.
The relationship between the recipient and the donor’s family is commonly facilitated by donor advocacy groups such as CORE.
Such a bond has led Debby Stonestreet to share her story, advocating for organ donation.
Her son Michael was involved in a multiple-vehicle accident while on his motor cycle where he suffered severe head injuries and would ultimately be declared brain dead.
He transplanted his heart, his kidneys, his corneas, as well as tissue and bone.
Debby said Michael decided to become an organ donor when he received his driver’s permit due to his passion for helping others.
“I’m proud of him for making that decision,” she said.
Stonestreet’s family has a strong relationship with the recipient of one of Michael’s kidney. She was involved in a car accident and put on a transplant list. She has been able to continue on with her life and Michael’s family has been along with her, attending her graduation and keeping up with her as she entered the professional world.
Inspired by Michael’s gift, Debby speaks at events alongside the recipient. Allowing people see first hand the results of making the decision to become an organ donor.
“My thing is that, those organs in the ground are just going to disintegrate. They’re not going to help anybody,” she said. “If you can help even just one person, then it’s worth it, I think.”
For those who wish to become a donor as part of National Donor Day Saturday or anytime afterward can register at donatelifewv.org.