Organ Donation- Truly the Ultimate Gift
LifeLink Coordinator Michelle Burkett and SGMC Quality Improvement Specialist Toni Quimby with guest speaker Laurie Carter and her daughters Claire and Emily Laurie Carter, a resident of Nashville, Georgia, would have never envisioned she’d be speaking at organizations to raise awareness of organ donation, but that’s exactly what she does now. In December of 2006, Laurie lost her 16-year-old son in a tragic vehicle accident.Just six months before the accident, Laurie’s son Tyler had decided to become an organ donor when he registered for his driver’s license. Tyler had never shared this with his parents; it was only after his accident they were made aware of his decision. Laurie said she knew they had to honor his wishes, but never imagined how much Tyler’s choice to be an organ donor would impact their family’s life for years to come.On March 29, LifeLink of Georgia, the non-profit agency who recovered Tyler’s organs for transplant, and South Georgia Medical Center hosted Laurie and her daughters to help educate staff and community members about organ donation. Laurie shared how the decision to donate Tyler’s organs was a personal choice but the right choice for her family. “The process has helped with our healing as four people have been given a second chance at life through his donation,” said Laurie. “Tyler was such a selfless child and we know he would have wanted that.”There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Laurie read letters from Tyler’s organ recipients, who live all over the United States. Tyler’s heart recipient lives in New Jersey and wrote, “I had this heart disease (cardiomyopathy) for nine years, survived cancer twice and lost both of my parents within the last five years. I prayed very hard to live and beat this thing. Again, I thank you and your family from the bottom of my heart and your son’s heart that now beats for your family as well as mine.” Tyler’s liver recipient who lives in California shared, “I was born with a liver problem called Biliary Atresia in which I did not have a gall bladder or bile duct. Tyler’s liver was a perfect match as I haven’t had any trouble, rejection, or sickness since the transplant. Your son’s liver really has given me a second chance at a new life.”This April, during National Donate Life Month, LifeLink of Georgia and SGMC honor the spirit of those individuals who make transplants possible—organ, tissue, and eye donors. We celebrate the lives of those who received their second chance. Finally, we call attention to the more than 122,000—over 5,400 of whom are men, women and children right here in South Georgia—still waiting for their gifts of life across the United States.Organ donation, with the primary exception of living kidney donation, takes place after death and provides the gift of life to tens of thousands each year through heart, kidney, lung, liver, pancreas or intestine transplants. Without the generosity of organ donors those waiting will die. To become a donor, sign up on Georgia’s donor registry when you renew your driver license or identification card, or visit donatelifegeorgia.org. It is recommended you share your decision with your family. The annual Tyler Carter Memorial Duathlon, which raises awareness of organ donation and money for the Tyler Carter Memorial Scholarship Fund, is scheduled for Saturday, April 30. The scholarship is awarded annually to two graduating seniors from Berrien High School. For more event information or to register for the duathlon, visit runsignup.com.