High Numbers of Donors Continues to Bring Second Chances for Those in Need
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Joshua Crumm was born in December 1995 with a hole in the left ventricle of his heart. After a series of surgeries to repair the hole, Joshua was managing his heart condition well until October 2009, when a simple cold signaled the beginning of mysterious symptoms. His parents, Helena and Steve, stood helplessly by as their then-13 year-old son Joshua was placed on the pediatric heart transplant waiting list.
"I can't put that feeling into words," recalls Joshua's father, Steve. "As a Dad, I was doing everything I could do, but it was completely out of my hands." The family waited and prayed for several months as Joshua's condition slowly deteriorated. Finally, on February 19th, 2010, just several days after Valentine's Day, Joshua Crumm received a new heart that was coordinated through Gift of Life Donor Program.
Gift of Life Donor Program, the non-profit, federally designated organ and tissue transplant network serving easternPennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, coordinated the recovery of 1,114 organs from 392 individuals in 2010. Serving approximately 10 million people in its region, Gift of Life's procurement of nearly 40 donors-per-million-population ranks among the highest in the world, and has helped save the lives of patients like Joshua.
Gift of Life also coordinated its highest ever number of bone donors in 2010, reaching 1,035—more than the previous year's record of 1,026 in 2009. One organ and tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 50 individuals, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of individuals benefited from vital bone grafts to repair fractures and to prevent amputations, skin for burn patients, heart valves to prevent defects, tendons to repair knee injuries and corneas to end blindness. More than 2,330 donors gave the gift of sight last year. Gift of Life is proud to call this region one of the most generous in the U.S.
Gift of Life credits the dedication and cooperation from the region's 150 hospitals and 15 transplant centers for their dual advocacy and diligence. These medical professionals continue to give hope to those individuals waiting for life-saving transplants while supporting the families of donors like the parents of eight year-old Delaware native Ethan Williams.
Diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, Ethan was a bright child who loved math, and became a pitcher on his little league baseball team. After battling his illness for more than 14 months, Ethan, the youngest of his family with one brother and two step-siblings, lost his life. His parents made the decision to donate life, and as a result, both his corneas were donated, as well as both of Ethan's kidneys.
"We are grateful to those individuals in 2010 who made the generous decision to be organ and tissue donors, and to the families who gave others the precious gift of a second chance at life," Gift of Life President and CEO Howard M. Nathan said. "In 2011, we will continue to focus on increasing donor designations on state driver's licenses and on working with the community to support families awaiting these critical transplants."
For more than 36 years, Gift of Life Donor Program has coordinated more than 30,000 organ transplants, along with more than 300,000 tissue transplants. Gift of Life credits its success to the support of the public along with the commitment to excellence from its staff in coordination with the participating hospitals in the region. In addition to the work being done in the community, Gift of Life Donor Program is initiating projects like the Gift of Life Family House, opening in the spring of 2011. Gift of Life Family House is a 30-room facility that will provide temporary lodging and supportive services to family members of adult and pediatric transplant patients in the Philadelphia region.
These transplants mean that families like Ethan Williams' have given patients like Joshua Crumm the gift of completing his freshman year of high school, and spending more time with his loving family. Of the 392 organ donors in 2010, nearly half were registered as donors on their driver's license or state-issued IDs. While this number is encouraging, more than 6,700 men, women and children in this region are currently on the waiting list for transplants, and more than 110,000 patients remain on the list nationally.
Gift of Life Donor Program encourages those who want to make the commitment to donate to register online at ww.donors1.org.
For more information on organ and tissue donation, please call Gift of Life at 1-800-DONORS-1 (1-800-366-6771) or visit at www.donors1.org.