Reunion recalls how organ donation saves lives

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- The University of Tennessee Medical Center is the only facility in the region that performs organ transplants.

On Sunday, more than 150 people returned to the Knoxville hospital to attend its 23rd Annual Transplant Reunion.

For many in attendance it was the chance to celebrate their new gift of life, while others were there hoping for that same miracle.

Thomas Moore, 72 has diabetes and needs a new kidney.

If he receives one, he will join the list of the more than 850 kidney transplant patients that UT Medical has performed the surgery on since 1985.

Moore has been on the transplant waiting list for two years, anxiously waiting to get word that they have a kidney for him.

“It's like being in the Army and getting ready to go to battle,” he said. “You don't know when the call is going come."

Sunday’s transplant reunion gave Moore the chance to be around people who once went through what he is currently going through, offering the company he needs to get through a difficult time.

“It gives me hope,” he said. “I know that one day, with God's will, I'm going to get a kidney"

The Lay family also attended the reunion.

Not too long ago, Tyler Lay, 5 became very sick and needed a transplant.

Thankfully, his father was able to step in and act as the donor.

"He donated his kidney and said he would donate both of them if he could,” said Marie Hale, Tyler’s proud paternal grandmother.

The five year old is now full of energy again, and every member of his family has signed up to become organ donors.

"It's very important, because you never know when it's going to someone in your family,” Marie said. “You never know if it's going to be your brother, your sister, or even your own child."

There are also people like Thomas Moore, who have to rely on a perfect stranger becoming an organ donor to save his life.

You can become an organ donor by signing the back of your Tennessee driver’s license.

Otherwise, you can click on the link below for more information on organ donation.

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