Burlington, Vermont - August 14, 2011
There are over 100-thousand people in the U.S. waiting for a live saving transplant, yet Vermont faces a critical shortage of registered organ donors.
It was the greatest gift a friend could give.
"Paige saved my life," said Kris Crouchley, who was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney failure. Her life depended on a transplant. "You're on dialysis to stay alive and until a donor comes along that's what you do."
She waited 18 months before she found a match in a long time friend.
"She is an O negative blood type and so am I," said Paige Manning, "That kind of prompted the whole start of it."
When Manning discovered her friend was sick she began researching transplantation and decided to give Crouchley her kidney. She's what's a called a living donor. On Sunday the pair joined other transplant recipients -- walking to raise awareness. In Vermont, more than 90 patients are awaiting a transplant. One in four of those are children.
"There are people desperately hanging onto their lives waiting for these organs," said Dr. Antonio Di Carlo who heads transplantation services at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
He says every person who chooses the gift of organ donation has the potential to save six lives. Less than a year ago, only 289 Vermonters were registered organ donors. That number has since jumped to 2,080. Despite the progress, Vermont still ranks last in the nation and many blame the low donor numbers on the state's confusing system. Being listed as an organ donor on your Vermont driver's license does not automatically add your name to the national registry.
"Your driver's license does not imply consent. It just implies that you may be interested," explained Di Carlo.
Without official consent a person's organs cannot be harvested. In Vermont, if you wish to be an organ donor you're required to register online with Donate Life Vermont.
"It is scary if you think about it," said Manning, "But when you really look into all the details and educate yourself, it's what you get on the flip side that is really big."
If you would like to be an organ donor, visit donatelifevt.org to register.
Jennifer Reading - WCAX News