Hearts, lungs and kidneys recovered by LifeNet in Virginia Beach get most attention, but tissue is the larger player

THE VIRGINIA-PILOT | Elizabeth Simpson

The image of organ donation that is seared into public consciousness involves a heart being hustled out of an operating room in a cooler to save the life of someone hanging by a thread.

That scenario is well-rooted in reality, but the far more common recipient is a guy like Steve Comer. He received a transplant sealed in a sterile package stacked by the thousands in a LifeNet Health distribution room in Virginia Beach.

The 68-year-old retired wallpaper hanger is a transplant recipient – not because his heart wore out or his kidney failed. Rather, the Virginia Beach man was experiencing weakness in his right arm and pain in his left.

Turns out a couple of cervical discs in his neck were crumbling, pinching nerves that led to his arms. He needed to have damaged parts of the discs removed in August and replaced with a small piece of bone from a donor.

He would have never thought of himself as a transplant recipient, except that when he was leaving the hospital, he received a small card from LifeNet Health, explaining his surgery included a donor gift, and asking if he’d like to send the donor’s family a thank-you note. Continue reading
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