The Times West Virginian

April 11, 2014

Decision to be an organ donor can save lives


Times West Virginian

— Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.

So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

It was a long shot, as doctors had told Kyle that the hopes of finding a donor were slim. He struggled daily, as his kidneys continued to fail.

Meeting Chelsea was serendipitous. Not only did he come across a woman who was willing to be tested as a possible match for a man she’d just met, but her kidney was a perfect match for Kyle.

Her heart was, too, it seems. Going to appointments together, prepping for surgery and recovering was all prelude to a “happily ever after” romance between the two, who met when he was only 19 and she was 22. Four years after they met by chance at a car show in Indianapolis, the two exchanged vows, which included “I offer you my hand, my heart and my soul, as I know they will be safe with you.”

Her father couldn’t give her away that day, as he died while waiting for his match, but his struggle opened Clair’s heart to the value of donating life.

April is National Donate Life Month, and today is National Donate Life Blue and Green Day. People from across the country will don these colors to call attention to the fact that far too many people die while waiting for organ and tissue transplants.

The number is shocking, really — 270. There are more than 120,000 people, men and women, boys and girls, who are currently waiting for a second chance at life that can only come from a donation. You’ll never know if you or someone you love could one day be that person, waiting at home or, sadly, in a hospital bed for the call that may or may never come. The average wait can be five to seven years.

While it takes a pretty extraordinary person to offer a kidney to a stranger, there are things you can do to save a life one day that will have absolutely no impact on your day-to-day life. Either log on to https://donatelife.wv.gov/ and register as an organ, tissue and eye donor, or indicate your choice to do so when renewing your driver’s license. There are no special steps — just a yes or a no question. That simple yes could mean that one day after your life on Earth is over, your organ and tissue donation can save the lives of eight people.

Talk to your family and loved ones about your decision. Sometimes it’s hard to make decisions about organ donation when you’re faced with the news that your loved one will not live without the assistance of machines. If you make your wishes known beforehand, it takes that burden away from your loved ones.

And wear blue and green today. If anyone asks, tell them you plan to Donate Life.