Two East Tennessee Cases Highlight Importance of Organ Donation

By: Jessa Goddard Email
By: Jessa Goddard Email

(WVLT) -- Two recent accident case in East Tennessee have highlighted the importance of being an organ donor.

Ashley Paine, 12, of Oak Ridge died after being hit by a school bus earlier this month.

Her family donated her organs, including her heart to another local 12 year-old girl.

Trey Lefler, 25, died in a car accident last week and his organs were also donated, according to his wishes.

Volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard has more on how the spirit of giving lives on through organ donation.

At any given time, nearly 100,000 men, women and children in America need life-saving organ transplants.

And every day, an average of 18 people die because they don't receive the organs they need.

Billy Jarvis says the only reason he is here today is because 17 years ago, a stranger made a selfless decision that saved his life.

"How blessed I've been to have a transplant 17 years, and go back to school and have a career and a family, all the things that you dream about as a young person, because a young man decided to say yes about organ donation," said Billy Jarvis, with Tennessee Donor Services.

Jarvis received a kidney.

But one donor can give several other organs; pancreas, liver, lungs, heart and intestines, that can all save many more lives.

Jarvis has dedicated his life to giving back to the process that saved his.

"When young people make that kind of decision and tell their families, it shows the courage that they have. And we've seen lots of families call and say I've seen this person do this, this is something I would like to do, how do we go about doing it?" he said.

Transplant patient services' Debra Winston says once you make the decision to give the gift of life, you should register on the Tennessee Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.

"They can sign the back of their driver's license or they can go online and fill out an organ donation card," said Winston.

But often, organ donation comes during times of tragedy.

Which is why donor and transplant service workers say you should make your wishes known to your family.

"Something good came out of something tragic. They know the reason they donated was to save lives and that gives them something positive and something to hold onto. That they know in the worst time the most tragedy of their lives, they helped other people," said Jarvis.

Knowing that even in death, their loved one has given others the gift of life.

Despite advances in medical technology and information, the demand for organ, eye and tissue donation still vastly exceeds the number of donors.

Every 12 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.


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