Participants linked their hands to form a symbolic chain of life during an ECU celebration of National Donate Life Month on Lake Laupus, health sciences campus. The event was held to raise awareness about the critical need for organ donation, as part of a national effort to register 20 million new donors in 2012. The program included speakers who have donated or received a transplant. Participants, including 2-year-old Charlie Switzer (shown eating popcorn), were treated to refreshments during the event. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)
Extending lives through transplants focus of event
April 20, 2012
By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services
Angie Mitchell has heard from two of the people who received organs from her deceased son. There’s another one she’d like to meet in person: the one who received his heart.
“I want to put my ear up to that man’s chest to hear my son’s heart beat one more time,” Mitchell said.
She was speaking today at “Linking Hands for Life,” an organ donation awareness event on the campus of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. April is National Donate Life Month.
With halting words and tearful eyes, Mitchell recalled the day a little over two years ago when her son Jordan called and told her his older brother, Corey, had shot himself. He was flown from Edgecombe County to the hospital in Greenville. Doctors told her there was nothing they could do to save the 19-year-old, but his organs could be used by others.
A lively person, Corey loved to hunt, fish and play sports. Mitchell described the day Corey got his drivers license. Asked if he wanted to be an organ donor, Corey told his mom when he died he was going to heaven to be with Jesus, so he wanted someone else to have his organs. That made her proud.
Now, she said his lungs are in a school principal. “That’s ironic,” she said, a photo of her sons clipped to her shirt. “Corey didn’t care much for school, so I can imagine him being a principal.”
Mitchell works as a patient access representative in the Vidant Medical Center organ transplant program.
In the United States, more than 113,000 people are awaiting organ transplants, said Dana Hall, director of communications for Carolina Donor Services, which coordinates organ harvesting and transplants. More than 3,500 of those are in North Carolina. Not enough organs are available for all.
“Approximately 18 people will die today due to that shortage,” she said.
Doctors at ECU and Vidant performed 74 kidney transplants in fiscal year 2011. A December transplant involved three donors and three recipients (http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/dhs/newsStory.cfm?ID=2216).
The Rev. Sidney Locks, pastor of Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, received a kidney from his son a few years ago.
“I’m convinced that God is more concerned about life than we realize,” Locks said. “In creation itself, He put the possibility and created the wisdom … to extend life.”
Carolina Donor Services will hold a legislative day May 22 in Raleigh to increase awareness of donation among elected officials, Hall said. More information about organ donation is online at http://www.donatelifenc.org.
For more information about kidney transplants at ECU, call 252-744-2620.