Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This insurance nightmare can happen and will probably happen in some manner to all of us, we must be vigilant and unite as one voice to prevent similar insurance travesty from happening. My insurance story later....
Please read and watch the compelling video.

I know of Hilda through one of my critical care nurses in one of my hospitals and learned of the immoral and inhumane actions by CIGNA Insurance. Hilda's mission is to change our corrupted health care system in the US....To change Erisa Law to Nataline's Law for NO more denial. When you have medical insurance through your employer Erisa Law applies. Join me...write to congress to make this change, insurance companies are in business for profit before patient. MY STORY WILL BE YOUR STORY IF WE DON'T MAKE THIS CHANGE NOW.

When Nataline Sarkisyan was denied the liver transplant her doctor thought could save her life, her mother and father brought her fight to the doorsteps of CIGNA insurance. By her side was American SiCKO Donna Smith and the California Nurses Association. The media picked up on the story which quickly became a public relations nightmare for CIGNA because of the real nightmare the Sarkisyan family was living. With no other choice, CIGNA finally approved Nataline's liver transplant but it was too late. Nataline died two hours later.

Wendell Potter was a CIGNA executive at the time. He saw the Sarkisyan's struggle from the inside of the profit-making company and knew that CIGNA would do whatever possible to protect the bottom line. Previously, potter had attended the premiere of 'SiCKO' with a large group of other insurance insiders set with the task of debunking the movie. But, instead, Potter was swayed and later said, "When I saw the movie, Ill be honest: I thought it was a real good documentary. I knew from my own studies of other healthcare systems that it was an accurate portrayal of those systems and how they are able to provide universal coverage."

Nataline Sarkisyan's death was the last straw for Potter. He resigned from CIGNA, blew the whistle on the industry, and became an activist for health care reform.

Here he is face-to-face with Nataline's family for the first time.


Watching it all unfold at

Hilda's Facebook page:


Kids walk a mile for their dad

Man with failing liver waits for a donor

Teenaged Aurora siblings Marla and Blair Cuthbert would easily walk a mile for their liver-frail dad.

On Wednesday, along with 20 friends and transplant recipient George Marcello, they did just that — and a lot more.

They trekked 3 1/2 hours from Yonge St. and Steeles Aves. to Queen’s Park to make a public appeal in the media gallery for someone to volunteer the gift of life for Bruce Cuthbert.

Outside, they lit a torch blessed nine years ago by Pope John Paul II and recently carried from Alaska to Argentina by Marcello, 54. He is carrying the “Torch of Life” around the world to promote organ donations.

Diagnosed two years ago with a failing liver, Cuthbert, 51, a software salesman, had hoped to join the walk, his daughter Marla, 19, said. Instead, he was admitted to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket a week ago, doctors grimly predicting he may last only a month without a transplant, Marla said. No compatible donors have surfaced, she said. Her dad has B-positive blood, Marla has A-positive, “so I wasn’t a match,” Marla said. Blair, 17, is too young and uncle Brad Cuthbert, was ruled out during testing due to the physical dimensions of his liver, she said.

So Cuthbert’s children sit and wait with their dad, every day when possible. “He tells us we’re his inspiration,” Marla told The Sun.

Alison Cuthbert frets for her children, who obviously care for their father, their daughter said. “She worries about us.” The downside of walking to the Ontario Legislature building was Cuthbert’s absence and his children not being with him. “We’re going every day,” Marla told The Sun, worrying “what if we have a little busy one day and there is no extra day? “The only thing we can do to help, we can’t do,” she said. “It’s hard to just sit there sit around and wait for somebody to help and nobody really is.”

Christian music producer Clairmont Humphrey, 48, of Mississauga, whose donation of part of his liver in 2008 saved the life of little Jadai Marae Fairman, was with them. He knew the family of the child, now well and almost three years old, and decided to help.

“You do it because you want to help somebody and you want somebody’s life extended,” he said.


By Kay Rossi (KRTV News)
Two California men hit the road two weeks ago on a journey from Washington to Wisconsin in an effort to share a message of life and giving, and The News Station's Kay Rossi spent some time with the travelers as they reached Havre.

An avid bike rider, Sean O'Rourke isn't new to the trials of a long distance trip; he noted, "In 2000 my wife and I actually biked from Seattle to Boston."

But when he was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2008, he wasn't sure if he'd live to ride again. Luckily, Sean's wife Virginia was a match for a transplant and gave him one of her kidneys in 2009. Now, just a year later he's back on the road doing what he loves - but this trip brings with it greater importance than ever before.

O'Rourke said, "Organ donation saves lives. It saved my life. Without it, I'd still be on dialysis but now I'm out here trying to bike to Madison, Wisconsin."

Sean and his former dialysis technician Dave Orduno are hoping to encourage people to donate organs and blood, as well as show others that there's life after a transplant. Orduno said, "The ideal outcome for us would just be to spread the word, hope one or two people out there will understand the need for organ and tissue donation, and understand how many lives they can affect in a great way by signing up to be organ donors."

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Sean's transplant, and he says the experience has given him a new perspective as he looks to a future full of life.

When the men reach their destination, Sean will again push himself as he races in a triathlon at the 2010 National Kidney Association's U.S. Transplant Games.
You can learn more and follow their journey at



Donate Life California Ambassadors are visiting the area DMV offices and their staff to reinforce the great work that the DMV is doing to increase the number of registered donors which currently stands at approximately 6.7 million Californians.  "I -heart - DMV" t-shirts are being distributed as part of the visit.  The DMV plays an integral part in the statewide organ, eye and tissue donation outreach efforts and whose hard work are often overlooked.

The next time you are visiting the DMV or know someone who works there, please say thank you for making a difference in saving lives.

Fullerton DMV Employees with their T-Shitrs
Santa Ana DMV Managers, Left Evangeline Cuyong, Right: Angelica Peoples
Middle:  David Hollon, Donate Life Ambassador
Photos are courtesy of Donate Life California Ambassador, David Hollon - many thanks Dave!!!!


Danville family talks about organ donation after deadly wreck

Source: Danville News
Susan Elzey Reporting

A local mother has turned her worst nightmare into a way to help other people.
Bobbi Jean Strader, the mother of Carl Andrew Turner Sr., made the heart-wrenching decision to donate his organs so that other seriously ill patients might have a new chance at life.
Turner died as the result of a car accident on April 17 on Little Creek Road in Pittsylvania County. He was on his way to the Emergency Department at Danville Regional Medical to see his cousin who had just been injured in another car accident.
“The last time I saw him was at my nephew’s wreck when I said I would meet him at the ER, but he never showed up. Then I got a call to get to Duke because it was bad,” Strader said.
Turner was her only child. He left a 16-month-old son, who lives with his mother, Lacey Dudley.
“I didn’t know if my son was an organ donor. I made that decision myself,” Strader explained. “He was strong and healthy, so I thought he could live on.”
Turner had a slight pulse when he was taken to Duke University Medical Center after the accident, but the family was told on April 19 that his brain stem was completely gone and he had spots bleeding in his brain.
He was kept on life support until the 20th so all the family members could come. After that, his organs were harvested.
“I could have let my son lie there and just look at him, but by letting him go, his tragedy could help save others,” Strader said.
Strader recently received a letter from Carolina Donor Services telling her who received her son’s organs.
“His heart went to a 57-year-old female, who is doing excellently, and his liver went to a 63-year-old female, who is doing great,” Strader read from the letter. “His left kidney and pancreas went to a 47-year-old female, and his right kidney went to a 59-year-old female.”
Because Turner had been given blood, his corneas could not be used, Strader said. One of his lungs was donated to a 10-year-old boy, but the transplant was not successful.
Strader has sent a letter to Carolina Donor Services to request that the families who received the organs get in touch with her, which is the only way to make contact with them.
“I have written a letter and told them about my son and his son,” she said. “His hobbies were snowboarding, basketball and four-wheeling, and he was a welder.”
Strader also received a certificate from the Surgeon General and a medal from the Donor Center. She took the certificate to The Sign Center to have it put on a plaque, and the business donated the plaque, worth $40, to her.
The grieving mother finds her days difficult since her son’s death.
“He lived with me, so it is hard living without him,” she said tearfully. “I’m disabled and don’t work, so that makes it harder, but my sister spends three days a week with me when she isn’t working and keeps me busy.”
As she tries to put her life back together, she hopes to hear from the families who were given life because of her son.
“I would really love to meet each and every one of them because they are part of my family,” she said.


UW Transplant Head D'Alessandro Lauded As Civic Hero

So it turns out that the man who heads the division of transplant surgery at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics is also a civic hero.

So says his history, and so say the board of George Watts, the Milwaukee-based tabletop and tea supplies company that recently awarded him the George Watts Annual Civic Heroism Award.

Dr. Anthony D’Alessandro was nominated by Donate Life Wisconsin in recognition of his leadership in state and national organ donation improvement initiatives as well as his contributions and expertise in the field of transplantation.

“I’m obviously extremely honored to be recognized for work on this vital issue,” said Dr. D’Alessandro, who has served as Executive Director of the UW Health Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) for the past 10 years. “At the same time, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that raising awareness of organ donation is very much a team effort.”

Dr. D’Alessandro’s list of accomplishments in the field of organ donation is long and impressive. He worked with then-Governor Tommy Thompson to form the nationwide Health and Human Services (HRSA) organ donation collaborative to increase organ donation nationally, and served as its co-chair. He’s known internationally for his work on Donation After Cardiac Death (DCD), including establishing DCD protocols that are used in OPOs around the world. The UW OPO typically has one of the highest rates of DCD in the nation.

“In the last 10 years, we’ve managed to increase the number of donors, improve donation education in Wisconsin and to create protocols for donor management used by OPOs around the world,” D’Alessandro notes.

UW’s OPO has grown from a staff of five to more than 30 people under D’Alessandro’s leadership during that time period. The UW OPO is consistently ranked in the top three OPOs in the nation.

Each year, the board of George Watts chooses a cause and raises money based on private contributions, as well as a portion of sales for the month before the awards ceremony, culminating in an invitation-only gala ceremony.

Community leaders, members of Donate Life Wisconsin and George Watts employees will be present when Dr. D’Alessandro accepts the award on Oct. 1 in Milwaukee. Previous winners include Martin F. Stein, Tommy Thompson and Dr. Kurt Bauer.


PLEASE RSVP TO DANA BY JULY 15, 2010 310.670.4624

Cycle for Organ Donation (CFOD) was founded in 2010 to help raise awareness and promote the need for organ donation. Summer 2010 will mark the Inaugural CFOD Bike Ride which will begin in Washington state and end in Madison, Wisconsin for the 2010 National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games.

We ride to raise awareness, to honor all donors, all donor families, and all recipients and to dispel myths about organ donation and to let everyone know there is LIFE AFTER TRANSPLANT.
We know firsthand there is no greater gift than the gift of life. Due to the lack of available donors, 4,573 kidney patients, 1,506 liver patients, 371 heart patients, and 234 lung patients died in 2008 while waiting for life-saving organ transplants.

ORGAN DONATION SAVES LIVES - One person has the ability to save the lives of up to EIGHT people and to enhance the lives of up to FIFTY.

SIGN UP TODAY TO BECOME A DONOR. For more information on becoming a donor, please visit our Resources page.

We are grateful for your support and hope you join us on our journey.....

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." ~ Edward Everett Hale





Thank you Bryan Stewart, President of Donate Life California for sharing with our readers

Monday, June 28, 2010


Art With Heart, Soles
New York Times

Israel Wolfson's X-rayed foot is given wings in 'Achilles' Heal.' (above)

Paging Natalie Portman: David Foox wants your heart. Or, rather, just an X-ray of it.

David Foox—the South Africa-born artist known as FOOX—has curated a show in Chelsea's Lyons Wier Gallery from now until July 20. The show includes brightly-colored hearts and skulls he painted over X-rays attached to lightboxes, as well as other organ-centric pieces including the diminutive Organ Donor dolls.

The show, "As Within So Without," includes the work of five other artists and aims to raise awareness of and funds for organ donation: 10% of proceeds will support the Organ Donor Network of New York.

Some big names have contributed to the cause: "Rock of Ages" producer Israel Wolfson's X-rayed foot is given wings in the yellow "Achilles' Heal." The rib cage of an anonymous actress "whose name you'd know," FOOX said, provides the backdrop for the pink and red "Bleed for You." An upcoming collage—not in the show—will display the insides of Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) and fashion magnate Marc Ecko.

On FOOX's wish-list: film of Shia LaBeouf's broken hand from his recent accident and anything from Ms. Portman, because "we have a lot of friends in common." He would also take Barack Obama's X-ray, he said, because "that would be pretty cool."

—Joy Resmovits


Organ donation helps family deal with loss of husband, dad

It was like some atmospheric flash during a thunderstorm. A random event. Sudden. Frightening. Devastating.

A neurologist told Terri Adamson that the odds of what happened to her husband on Memorial Day -- one day before his 47th birthday -- were about the same as a person being struck by lightning. Tests confirmed a brainstem stroke, the worst kind of news. The event left her spouse, physically active and seemingly healthy, in a coma, damaged beyond repair. His kind blue eyes were vacant, the pupils "blown," fixed and dilated.

Four days later, Roger Adamson lay in an operating room at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. His wife and children quietly entered the sterile environment. Emotionally spent, hollow with grief, this stricken family huddled in reverence at the head of the operating table and waited.

Their loved one had just been taken off life support.

It was 3:45 p.m. June 4.

Terri gazed lovingly into the face of the man she had met in college and married 25 years ago. They had started a family, first Lara, now 23 and a mom herself, and then son Jordan, 17. Terri Adamson began to pray aloud. "Please, God, make it fast," she whispered. Between pleas, her tear-bright gaze fixed anxiously on the vital-signs monitor.

Within minutes, as expected, her husband's heart rate slowed.

His blood pressure began to ebb.

Terri's pastor stood behind her as the end mercifully neared. She can still hear it, the cadence and spiritual message in his reassuring words. "To be absent from the body," Nelson Coffman said softly, over and over, "is to be with the Lord."

At 4:01 p.m. their prayers were answered.

Adamson's heart stopped beating. Once his death was formally pronounced, a team of surgeons entered the operating room and began its work.

Time was of the essence.

After saying goodbye, Terri found comfort in the arms of waiting family members and close friends. She also felt a consoling peace wash over her as she considered her decision to sign a one-page legal form that read:

I, Terri Adamson ... do hereby consent that there may be recovered from the body of Roger Mark Adamson the following:

Heart/aorta. Lungs. Liver. Kidneys. Pancreas. Small bowel.

She circled yes to each.

Whole eyes. Corneas. Arteries and veins. Skin. Bones. Pericardium. Peripheral nerves.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

It seemed appropriate, she said -- "so right," an act faithful to the character and spirit of a good man. A charitable man. A family man. "I know Roger is happy and proud," his wife said of his gifts. "Just knowing he could help others. He didn't suffer. In any way. He is in heaven. All our family wanted to do, in every decision we made, was to honor him."

By the numbers

More than 108,000 people nationally and 10,000 in Texas are awaiting organ transplants.

The good news: At least 30,000 patients a year receive the organs they need.

Sadly, about 18 a day die waiting for lifesaving transplants.

Even if everyone who could donate did so, the need for organs wouldn't be met, said Pam Silvestri, public affairs director of Southwest Transplant Alliance, one of three organ and tissue procurement organizations in Texas.


Organ donors are lifesaving heroes
By Richard J. Codey
NJ Star-Ledger, Guest Columnist

Maria Pomavilla was a hero, though she was never even given the opportunity to find that out for herself.

The 17-year-old would have graduated from East Side High School in Newark this month. She volunteered in the community, she held a part-time job to help out her family and she was a good friend to anyone in need of an ear to bend or a shoulder to cry on.
Maria was struck and killed by a hit and run driver in April while coming home from her part-time job. Her dreams and aspirations were all erased in a senseless and tragic turn of events. To date, the driver of the vehicle hasn’t been apprehended.

However, her family, seeking some sort of meaning from the tragedy, and following what they believe Maria’s final wishes would have been, decided to donate Maria’s organs to people in need.

Thanks to this ultimate gift of life, at least two people — and possibly more — have been granted a second chance.

Maria’s story is a testament to the success of the Hero Act, which I sponsored to raise public awareness of organ donation among New Jersey residents. When the family made its decision regarding Maria’s organs, her 16-year-old brother, Huascar, helped convince his parents that this is what she really would have wanted. Both Maria and Huascar were taught about organ donation in health class.

Since the Hero Act began requiring public schools to educate students on organ donation in the 2009-2010 school year, nearly 18 percent more high school students have indicated that they’d be willing to become organ donors, according to a survey of 2,000 students conducted by the New Jersey Sharing Network. The percentage of students who would be unwilling to be donors has dropped by 6 percent.

That’s a significant improvement, particularly given the number of myths and false information spread about organ donation, and the fears and discomfort many people have in broaching the topic. There are some people who believe that if you’re an organ donor, an ER doctor won’t work as hard to save your life, while others simply view the whole organ donation process as ghoulish and sacrilegious. (For the record, all major organized religions approve of organ and tissue donation, and many even view it as an act of charity).

The Hero Act works to raise public awareness in two ways. We’ve created a major public education campaign, through which we engage students at the high school and college levels in the discussion of organ donation via the approved health curriculum or student health service agencies in our public schools. And we are phasing in procedural changes at the State Motor Vehicle Commission so that every person applying for a license in New Jersey will have to answer some basic questions regarding organ donation before they can get their license. They can either become an organ donor, designate someone else to make the decision should they be unable to, or opt out of the program after reviewing the information.

The importance of organ donation is greater than ever. Right now in New Jersey, more than 3,000 people are awaiting a transplant. An average of 18 people throughout the nation die every day due to the lack of available organs for transplant.

Of course, becoming an organ donor isn’t for everybody, and I can respect that – so long as you’ve reviewed the information available and made an informed decision about registering as an organ donor. I firmly believe that the more people know about organ donation, the more likely they are to sign up.

We need to create a better dialogue about organ donation in the Garden State. This is a discussion that should be taking place in the living rooms and dining rooms of New Jersey families — not in the emergency rooms at a time of loss and grief.

Parents, if you haven’t already done so, talk to your kids about the prospects of becoming an organ donor. Discuss their fears and concerns, as well as the life-saving potential that becoming an organ donor can have for people in need of a transplant. Trust their judgment, and give them accurate information about the responsibilities and benefits of being an organ donor.

Hopefully, your family will never face the sort of tragedy that the Pomavilla family has had to endure. But should the unthinkable happen, we need to prepare our kids to make the decision to follow Maria’s example, and be someone else’s hero


Day 6 Legacy Tour

The second-last stop on the statewide Legacy of Life Tour takes us to Milwaukee. The event was at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin. The building overlooks Lake Michigan. It was a great location for Milwaukee’s event!

At the event, Janel Lang shared her family’s multiple connections to organ donation.

In Sept. of 2007, Janel Lang waited for a kidney and liver transplant. In the hospital she weighed only 70 pounds. Toxins were building up in her body, and she had to undergo several belly taps to drain the fluid and dialysis to cleanse her blood. The entire time her husband, two kids, relatives and friends made a point to never let Janel wait alone. Someone was always by her side helping her through. Friends sent cards and even cooked meals, anything they could do to help out Janel and her family.

In a story of the experience, written by Janels’ sister-in-law’s partner, Mari, Mari said, “How does one pray for an organ when you know if you prayers are answered that means some other family is in crisis.”

It was, as I’m sure you can imagine, an incredibly difficult time. But on Sept. 24, Janel’s daughter Abby’s birthday, Janel got the call that they had the organs for her. After four months in the hospital and four other false alarms, Janel went into surgery and it was a success!

Janel is now training for a running event at the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games in Madison this summer!

But the Lang family’s story of organ donation doesn’t end there. In June of 2008, Lori Lang, who had been at Janel’s side through her entire transplant experience, even cooking for the staff at Froedtert Hospital where Janel was staying, had a brain aneurysm, and was taken from the Langs at age 43.

In Mari’s written story she remembers Lori as, “full of smiles spontaneity, support and laughter.”

Lori is now the Lang family’s angel. On June 8th,the family said goodbye to Lori and doctors approached her husband, Dan, asking about organ donation. He didn’t think twice.

“After seeing Janel wait and wait and wait, there was an unspoken understanding and support of organ donation so that no other family would have to agonize over a loved one’s wait on a list,” Mari recalled in her story.

But the Lang family would have yet another organ donation experience. Jodi, Janel’s sister-in-law, had a friend of 25 years in need of a kidney. Jodi right away went to get screened to see if she was a match. She insisted to her friend Kathy not to worry because she knew she would be a match. She was! Jodi gave her friend Kathy her own kidney. The surgery was a success and they are both happy and healthy.

The Lang family’s story is an incredible one of courage, loss, strength and selflessness.

Janel Lang helped present the representatives from the Lions Eye Bank with the next panel in the Paths of Love Donor Quilt.

The event was another success, filled with inspiration and accomplishment.

(Thank you to both Janel and Mari for sharing Mari’s written story with us. I was unable to attend this event, and much of my blog came from Mari’s story. Thanks for sending the story to us Janel, and thank you, Mari for writing it and sharing it.)

The next event is in Madison Wednesday, June 23rd at the Monona Terrace Convention Center! Hope you can come! See you there!

Remember: if you haven’t registered on the on-line donor registry, the site is YESIWILLWISCONSIN.ORG! Sign up and share your wishes with your loved ones!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Another gift of life to consider: live organ donation
By Evra Taylor Levy and Eddie Lang, For Canwest News Service

A doctor checks on a patient with kidney failure who is receiving dialysis. A life-saving kidney can be given by a living donor in Canada through a special registry that matches donors with recipients.
Photograph by: Jack Guez, AFP/Getty Images

Providing a life-saving organ from the recently deceased to a critically ill patient is the way we normally think about organ donation -- but it is not the only approach.

Today, we look at the other "gift of life" that, through an incredible act of generosity, can transform someone with a life-threatening condition and vastly diminished quality of life to full or nearly full health. Donating your kidney is no small decision, but is it safe?

What do kidneys do for us?
The function of kidneys is to clean your blood of harmful wastes and extra salt and water, and to make hormones that keep your bones strong and your blood healthy. When the kidney is functioning normally, all of these toxins and excess fluid are excreted in the urine.

Kidneys function less efficiently as we age, and in certain diseases they can begin to operate at only a fraction of their normal capacity.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the major causes of chronic kidney disease, although some auto-immune diseases can result in kidney failure.

What happens when the kidneys fail?
In kidney failure, the kidneys' tasks must be performed via a treatment called dialysis to prevent the lethal buildup of toxic metabolites in the blood.

In hemodialysis, the most common type of procedure, blood is withdrawn from the body by a machine and passed through an artificial kidney called a dialyzer.

Each hemodialysis treatment normally takes four to five hours, and is typically done three times a week, in a medical facility.

The disadvantage of dialysis is its obvious negative impact on one's quality of life in terms of inconvenience, time spent, work interruption and the tremendous burden it places on one's ability to enjoy a normal daily routine.

Kidney failure patients are often very weak and suffer from poor appetite, swelling and fatigue.

How prevalent is chronic kidney disease in Canada?
There are approximately 35,000 Canadians living with kidney disease and 3,000 people in this country are currently waiting for a kidney transplant with demand on the rise.

Nearly 1,200 kidney transplants were performed in Canada in 2007, including 480 from live donors.

What is a living kidney donation?
While most of us are familiar with the concept of organ donation from a deceased person, a healthy living person also can donate a kidney, known as a living kidney donation.

Blood tests will determine if the donor and potential recipient are a match; if they are, they are known as a compatible pair.

What is the Living Donor Paired Registry?
Kidney donation is done on a voluntary basis and may extend to those beyond one's family, as a true act of altruism.

The Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry, initiated by Canadian Blood Services, is designed to facilitate kidney donations among live donors, matching them with those suffering from end stage kidney disease.

The registry is a secure computer database that compares the medical information of prospective donors and recipients and identifies potential matches.

The benefit of such a co-ordinated effort is that it increases the chances of finding suitable matches, allowing people to receive kidneys faster, thus improving lives.

Canadian Blood Services forecasts the registry will increase live kidney donations in Canada by 20 per cent or more. In the first year of operation, the registry yielded 39 transplants in three pilot provinces (B.C., Alberta and Ontario). These are people who might not otherwise have received kidneys were it not for interprovincial collaboration. As more provinces come on board, the registry's potential will be unleashed.

What does a recent study show?
Despite the great numbers of people who have donated their kidneys to improve or save the life of someone in need, there is only limited earlier research on whether or not this act of kindness can affect the donor's health.

A recent study looked at more than 80,000 live kidney donors in the U.S. who had their organs harvested during a 15-year window from 1994 to 2009.

The researchers were particularly interested in looking at whether or not donors live as long as the general population, and if they themselves are at risk of developing kidney disease by virtue of having one of a pair removed. They compared mortality in these donors with a smaller group of individuals with similar health characteristics.

So, is kidney donation safe?
The risk of death from the surgery itself is tiny, but not negligible, and based on these U.S. figures, falls in the range of one in 3,300 donors. The researchers noted that donors with high blood pressure, as well as males and those of black or Hispanic origin were at increased risk of dying of complications.

Importantly, however, for the duration of followup that this project measured, donors were not more likely to succumb to an early death than their non-donor counterparts.

We know, though, that donors must undergo intensive screening as well as physical and emotional assessments before being allowed to undergo kidney removal.

So despite best efforts through statistical adjustments to make the groups seem equal except for the donation surgery, there may have been some degree of long-term risk that was masked by the subjects' generally healthy preoperative condition.

What is the take-home message?

Kidney failure is a devastating illness, but we now have skilled transplant teams that can cure these patients with a combination of transplant surgery and anti-rejection drugs.

A live donor program is one means of rescuing the many sufferers from their next encounter with a dialysis machine.

- The material provided in HealthWatch is designed for general educational purposes only and does not pertain to individual cases. It should not replace necessary medical consultations with your own doctor or medical professional.


Green Bay Bullfrogs deliver about 40 new organ donor pledges
By McLean Bennett • • June 24, 2010

Between 40 and 50 people had pledged to register online to become organ donors by the third inning of the Green Bay Bullfrogs home game against the Madison Mallards Wednesday night, according to volunteers who were collecting donor pledges.

More than 100 others had stopped by a table operated by UW Health Organ Procurement Organization volunteers to learn more about organ donation and the state's new online organ donor registry, volunteers said.

People not registered as organ donors who promised to register online after the game got an orange sticker to put on their driver's license and a free ticket voucher, good for any Bullfrogs home game this season.

The vouchers can be turned in at a home game for a seat, as long as seats are still available by the time the voucher is turned in, said Trevor Ramseier, vice president of corporate sales and promotions for the team.

Twenty-seven home games remain on the Bullfrogs' schedule after Wednesday. Their next home game will be against the Waterloo Bucks at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Joannes Stadium, and their last one will be against the Mallards at 7:05 p.m. Aug. 14.

Ramseier said he wasn't aiming to get a certain number of people registered Wednesday. "One is better than none, really," he said. "One (donor) saves up to 50 lives." Volunteers said one organ, eye and tissue donor can help up to 50 people.

Besides giving vouchers to people who promised to register, volunteers also provided brochures and cards encouraging people to become donors on the state's new online registry. People can do so at

Wednesday's game was delayed one hour, until 8:05 p.m., because rain that morning had made parts of the field unsafe. Ramseier said the delay was a "blessing" because it gave fans milling around the stadium before the game extra time to promise to register.

"We have definitely created awareness tonight," he said.


EDITORIAL: Consider helping others with organ donation
Morning News
Published: June 27, 2010

While suffering the worst loss a mother can suffer, Tabitha Hudson bravely chose to help four other people live.

On June 1, Hudson’s 13-year-old son, Timquan McAllister, died after drowning at Dar-lington’s municipal swimming pool. His 13-year-old cousin, Justin McKay, died within two hours of both boys being pulled from the pool May 29.

As Hudson agonized over the death of her son, she allowed him to remain on life support so that his organs could be harvested.

Four people Hudson’s never met, including a mother of two, received her son’s organs and are alive today, Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee said during an inquest on the boys’ deaths June 17.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 74 people receive an organ transplant every day while 17 others die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

The same agency says the rate of organ donation in minority communities doesn’t keep pace with the number needing transplants. “Although minorities donate in proportion to their share of the population, their need for transplants is much greater. That’s because some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas and liver that can lead to organ failure are found more frequently in ethnic minority populations than in the general population. Blacks, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Hispanics are three times more likely than whites to suffer from kidney disease. Many also blacks have high blood pressure (hypertension), which can lead to kidney failure.

Matches are more likely and more timely when donors and potential recipients are members of the same ethnic background because, generally, people are genetically more simi-lar to people of their own ethnicity or race. Also, minority patients may have to wait longer for matched kidneys and may be sicker at the time of transplant or die waiting. With more donated organs from minorities, finding a match will be quicker and the wait-ing time will be reduced, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says.

Donate Life America, a not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and state teams that encourage organ donation, also offers these facts:
1. Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of age, race, or medical history.

2. If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the No. 1 priority is to save your life. Organ, eye and tissue donation can only be considered after you are deceased.

3. When you are on the waiting list for an organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information, not your financial status or celebrity status.

4. An open casket funeral is possible for organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process the body is treated with care, respect and dignity.

5. There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation.

In South Carolina, residents can sign up to be organ donors online in the South Carolina Donor Registry at and indicate their wishes on a driver’s license or state ID when applying for or renewing it. Adults in the Palmetto State don’t require fam-ily consent to be an organ, eye or tissue donor. Letting loved ones know ahead of time, however, helps avoid any confusion or delays.

Most religions support organ and tissue donation as a charitable act of love and giving.

When reflecting on Tabitha Hudson’s decision, it’s hard to see it any other way.

Please consider organ donation.


Saturday, June 26, 2010


Series: Life on the waiting listIndex Life on the waiting list: part one
James Hipwell is waiting to find a donor for his second kidney transplant. In the first of a fortnightly column, he describes the vast quantity of medication he takes every day just to stay alive

I want this column to do a number of things: to describe what life is like for thousands of people on the waiting list for an organ transplant; to lobby for a change to our system of organ donation to one of "presumed consent"; and to encourage people to join the UK organ donor register.

As I wrote in the Observer on Sunday, I had a kidney transplant in 2002 after my brother donated one of his to me. Unfortunately, the autoimmune disease that wiped out my kidney function in the first place - IgA nephropathy - has returned. It means I now have virtually no kidney function and very soon I'll need to start some form of dialysis to survive.

So, in the next few days I will be going into hospital to have a tube placed in my abdomen. Then I will be given a dialysis machine that I can store in my bedroom at home that will pump fluid in through the tube to clear out the toxins in my blood. Hopefully this should keep me going until I can have another kidney transplant.

Something people are always surprised about is the number and quantity of drugs that organ transplant patients must take every day.

My flat is strewn with medication and whenever I travel, I have to take a big bag of drugs with me. It can surprise the odd airport security official when the X-ray machine reveals so many different boxes, eye drops, syringes and blister packs going through the scan.

Pill popping has become a daily ritual. This morning I kicked off by taking two immunosuppressant drugs called tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil. These are the most important drugs I take as they stop my immune system from rejecting my brother's kidney.

I also took a steroid called prednisolone, which also helps with the immunsuppression. I'm only on a small dose now, but just after the transplant I was on a very high dose, and I noticed wild mood swings: finding myself manic, excitable and upbeat one minute, and in total despair the next.

As those with kidney failure are subject to massive fluctuations in their blood pressure (BP), I added a beta blocker called atenolol and an ACE inhibitor called ramipril. I am on the maximum dose of each and without them my BP would be out of control, like it was when I first got ill. Back then, my blood pressure was 200/150. The doctor who first took it thought the machine was broken and did it again. "There's something very wrong with you," he said. "You need to go to hospital now." He was right - I didn't come out for three weeks.

Transplant patients are also vulnerable to swollen ankles and fluid retention, so I take a diuretic called furusemide to deal with this problem.

Poor kidney function can also lead to a high buildup of uric acid in the blood plasma. This is a less funny way of saying you get gout. I know that any mention of gout usually brings out a snigger - surely nobody has had gout in this country since Henry VIII, people say. Too much swan, wild boar and port, old boy, my friends would jest when I revealed I have this condition.

But I know all you secret gout sufferers out there are with me when I tell you the pain is excruciating. When I was struck down with it, the pain was so bad I actually wanted to cut my left foot off. After every meal I take something called allopurinol that keeps this agonising condition at bay.

I also have a severe vitamin D deficiency, so every other day I take alfacalcidol, which increases the amount of vitamin D, calcium and phosphate in my body.

On Mondays I inject into my thigh a pre-filled syringe of aranesp, or "epo", which helps my body to produce red blood cells. This is something my kidney would do if it worked properly. As it doesn't, I am prone to anaemia. It means I feel permanently exhausted - I can sleep for 12 hours a night and still feel shattered the next day.

Having no immune system creates its own problems too. I have had shingles for four months and without an immune system, my body can't fight off the virus. After making my head swell up so that it looked like I had gone three rounds with Mike Tyson, and covering my face in pus-filled blisters, it then found its way in to the cornea of my right eye, leaving me temporarily (I hope) blinded in that eye. I have been taking steroid eye-drops to treat this and an antiviral drug called valacyclovir, but it still hasn't cleared up.

Shingles wreaks a path of devastation through the nerve cells, leaving you in agonising pain for months. So now I am also taking something called gabapentin to relieve the intense pain.

They tell me at the Royal Free, my hospital in Hampstead, north London, that the virus probably won't go away until I stop taking the immunosuppressant drugs. I can't stop taking these until I start dialysis. So every cloud has a silver lining.

Finally, just before I go to bed I take more immunosuppressants, as well as a statin to deal with my elevated cholesterol level.

So all in, I take around 15 forms of medication a day. This costs the NHS roughly £6,000 a year.

It costs around £17,500 a year for a patient on peritoneal dialysis (the dialysis you can do at home), and £35,000 for someone on haemodialysis in hospital. Three-quarters of those on dialysis are on haemodialysis.

Over a period of 10 years, performing a transplant rather than treating someone on dialysis saves the NHS almost £250,000.

Next week my wife, Rachel, will be going to the hospital for her first blood test to see if she can be a donor for me. As readers of my piece in the Observer on Sunday will know, I am not entirely comfortable with this prospect, so I am not too sure in my mind yet which outcome I am hoping for.

If you would like to join the Organ Donation Register you can do so here:

• James will be writing fortnightly about life as a patient on the waiting list for an organ transplant


Frostburg educator saves life with liver donation
Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News
FROSTBURG — In the summer of 2012, very likely on June 10, Patrick Barry and his wife, Mary, plan to meet with Tom and Gretchen Kozikowski and ride bicycles from Pittsburgh to Frostburg.

It will be the second time the four of them will have gathered in the Steel City.

When that bike ride happens, the 60 percent of Tom’s liver that was donated to Patrick on this June 10 will have long been regenerated to full size, as will the 40 percent of the donor’s liver that remained.

The story is simple. Patrick needed a liver transplant to survive. The story is complex. Tom and Gretchen, who had known of Patrick’s need because of a connection with his parents, Bob and Linda, decided in September to make the organ donation. “We prayed about it and came to know it was the right thing to do. It was God’s will,” Tom said Wednesday seated in his Frostburg home. The Barrys were not made aware of the anatomical gift until April.

Tom, a teacher of environmental science at Mountain Ridge High School, had not even met Patrick when he decided to become the donor. Not even knowing it, Isaiah Kozikowski, born July 10, was the key to the transplant. “We wanted to make sure Isaiah would get to the point where it would not have a negative impact on him,” Tom said. “I’m a hands-on father who takes him for hikes and wrestles with him on the floor and I won’t be able to do that for about three months. We wanted to get to the point where he was sleeping through the night.”

The 10-hour surgery took place at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - Montifiore at Oakland.

“When I woke up after the surgery I asked if the transplant had actually happened,” Patrick said. “It was surreal.”
Patrick, an Oregon resident, had met Tom during a spring visit to Frostburg and had answered a lot of questions about his condition. “I thought he was just curious, but then out of the blue he called me when I was back in Oregon and asked flat out if I would like to have part of his liver.”

Patrick said the two talked about the possibility for a couple of weeks before he agreed to the offer. It had been five years since he knew he was a candidate for a liver transplant. Patrick, a fishery biologist, and Tom, an environmental science teacher, hit it off right away.

“We went fishing. We sat on the porch and had long discussions about fish and the environment and the deep meanings of life,” Tom said. Patrick is 34 and Tom turned 31 Tuesday. The two have similar, slim body conformations, an important factor in organ transplants.

Dr. Abhi Humar, UPMC chief of transplantation, said Tuesday that recipient and donor appear to be recovering in the appropriate fashion. “We can remove up to 70 percent of a donor liver,” Humar said. “The liver is one of the few organs that will regenerate back to full size in a donor as well as a recipient.” The hospital is home to about 130 liver transplants per year, though the majority are whole livers from cadavers. Humar said living donors from outside a patient’s family circle are not common. Tom said he was checked out physically, mentally and socially before getting the OK to give away almost two-thirds of his liver.

The two surgeries took place simultaneously, according to Humar, who performed the entire donor surgery and assisted in the transplant into Patrick. “It is important for people to realize there is an organ shortage,” Humar said. “People are dying while waiting for a transplant. The living donor option is a good one for certain patients.”
Tom said his name is only one on a casting list of heroes in this real-life movie. He speaks first and foremost of Gretchen.

“God, Jesus, church are central to our lives,” Tom said. The husband and wife and baby attend two churches, Frostburg United Methodist and St. Michael Catholic Church, reflecting Gretchen’s and Tom’s respective upbringings.

Gretchen is a dentist who works part time.

Members of both churches quickly filled a volunteer list to be at the Kozikowski home for the next couple of months at times when Gretchen will not be available.

“Isaiah likes to be picked up and held and my lifting limit for a while is 10 pounds,” Tom said.


Clovis man's kidney donation spurs 20 more
Posted at 12:43 AM on Saturday, Jun. 26, 2010
By Barbara Anderson / The Fresno Bee

When Max Zapata of Clovis donated a kidney to a complete stranger a year ago, he had no idea his selfless act would set off a cross-country chain of organ donations.

On Friday's first anniversary of the organ donation, Zapata, 51, and the recipient of his kidney, Laura Amador, 28, of Stockton, counted at least 20 surgeries that originated from his altruism.

"And we don't know if it's ended," said Paul Amador, 25, who came to Clovis from Stockton with his sister to celebrate with Zapata on the anniversary. Zapata's surgery last June 25 was one of the first at the UCSF-Medical Center in San Francisco.

Kidney chains are a way to help patients streamline the long waiting process for a donation. A kidney donor and recipient must be biologically compatible. The average wait time is three to five years, and 85,000 patients are waiting for a donation, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing

The chains are a variation on paired kidney donations. In a paired donation, a patient has found someone willing to donate a kidney that is not a match. Another patient also has found such a donor. But if they swap donors, the kidneys will be compatible.

In a kidney chain, there can be many donors and recipients, but it all starts with a donor. The donor is matched with a patient who has found another donor with a kidney that is not compatible. The match allows the incompatible kidney to go to another patient. If that patient also has an incompatible donor, the chain can continue. Kidney chains have become the new trend in the industry, because more people can get transplants, said Tom Mollo, executive director of the National Kidney Registry, a New York nonprofit computer-matching service for organ donations. The registry has facilitated 142 transplants since 2007, he said.

Here's how Zapata's chain grew: Zapata donated to Laura Amador. Her brother was not a match, but he donated to a stranger in Elk Grove. That man's wife donated to a stranger in New York. From there, Zapata said, surgeries were done in Philadelphia before the chain wrapped back to California.

Zapata had never heard of a donor chain when he decided to donate a kidney. A notice in his paycheck encouraging organ donation planted the seed. "God had been tugging my heart for a while to do something," he said.

There was an immediate connection between Laura Amador and Zapata, when they met after surgery. "You just know that it's instant friendship and it's everlasting," she said.

Since receiving her new kidney, she graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in psychology, and works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club.

She had spent three days a week on dialysis for four years. Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare autoimmune disease, caused her kidneys to fail.

Zapata's donation was the ultimate gift of life, Paul Amador said. "All the glory really goes to Max."

Zapata disagreed. "Everyone else who gave a kidney did their part to keep the chain going," he said.