By Jay Scherder
More than 100,000 people across the nation are on a waiting list to receive new organs. More than 13-hundred people in Missouri are waiting for an organ. . Families of organ donors and recipients say it's something everyone needs to be aware of.
John Long knows what it is like to have a bad day. "If I see some one that is having a bad day," John said, "I go hug them and say listen, let me tell you what a bad day is folks."
John had a massive heart attack 7 years ago and doctors told him he had to get a new heart or he wouldn't survive. He was airlifted to St. Louis hoping doctors there could do more for him while he waited for a heart, but at that point it wasn't looking good.
That's when a miracle happened.
"Somehow between [Springfield] and St. Louis they found a heart and I got it.," John said.
John was brought back to life thanks to a donor and his family. "My son asked me, dad somebody had to die. I said, yeah, but they did and now, they still live!"
It is a lot to bear for any donor and their family. William Mahoney knows it first hand. "For me, it was gut wrenching," William explained, "but I felt good, my wife and I, about the decision at the end."
Donors big and small help other people live again. "I invite them to take this opportunity," Skaggs Chaplain Mary Helen Jeruzal said, "as painful as it is, and turn it into a blessing."
"That was a pretty emotional moment for my wife and I," William said, "because we never had thought about that, to be quiet honest."
It's something that transplant awareness groups like Donate Life want people to think about. They held a ceremony at Skaggs in Branson for families of donors and donor recipients raising a flag in their honor. Without the donors people like John wouldn't have much hope.
"You know what?" John said, "Life is very good and the only way life is good is if you live it."
The toughest part about the transplant process is finding the right match. Only 1 or 2% of donors will actually be a match to someone who needs an organ.
However, almost everyone can donate tissue. One person who donates tissue can help up to 50 people. Without tissue, the organ transplant process can't even happen.