Mathews, formerly of Meigs County, recently marked the milestone with a visit to San Diego, Calif. with mom Barbara Crow of Pomeroy. Mathews said she picked San Diego simply because she’d always wanted to go, and thanks to a successful transplant, she made the trip.
Indeed, a lot of life has happened for Mathews in the past 10 years, including graduating from Ohio University with a Bachelors of Science in therapeutic recreation and a minor in psychology. Now living in Columbus, Mathews works in recreational therapy at The Ohio State University Medical School where she works with patients recovering from traumatic brain injury.
In addition to various accomplishments, Mathews said she’s grateful to have had the last 10 years feeling healthy and spending time with family, seeing her younger brother and sisters grow up and meeting more people along the way.
“Just getting to this point,” Mathews said when describing the highlights of the last 10 years.
Mathews is one of the lucky ones. According to Lifeline of Ohio, every day 18 men, women and children die while waiting for an organ transplant, while every 10 minutes another person is added to the national waiting list for organ donation. For Mathews, at the time of her transplant, her health had deteriorated to the point someone had to be with her at all times and she suffered from water retention and issues with ammonia levels as her liver began to decline. At one point she was in a coma for two days because of her ammonia levels.
Mathews received the gift of donation from the late Jordan Ayers, formerly of the Canton area, who suffered injuries from a car accident. Mathews has met Ayers’ family and she’s even attended the graduation of Jordan’s younger brother so in a way, she’s inherited an extended family thanks to organ donation.
Because of the gift she was given, Mathews is an enthusiastic supporter of organ and tissue donation. What she most wants others to understand about donation is: “People can make a difference...that organ donation gave me a second chance at life.”
Mathews said she also encourages others to find out the facts and dispel any myths about organ and tissue donation. The facts about how donation changes lives is indisputable according to Lifeline of Ohio which states more than one million people benefit from tissue transplants each year. In 2009, in the United States, 28,463 lives were saved due to donation while the number of lives lost while waiting in 2009 totaled 6,690 nationally. In Ohio, 3,349 people are waiting for transplants; 195 people in Ohio died waiting for transplants in 2009; in 2009 284 Ohioans were organ donors at the time of their death, helping 869 individuals receive a second chance at life through transplantation; 1,835 Ohioans gave improved quality of life to others through tissue donation; in 2010, Lifeline of Ohio recovered organs from 84 donors and tissue from 332 donors.
Go to www.lifelineofohio.org for more information.