At first, my younger brother Christopher thought he was just taking a little longer than usual to get over a winter cold. It wasn't long however before his skin faded from a healthy tan to an ashen gray. The diagnosis was end stage renal failure, and at only 22 years old, he would need a new kidney to live. In Pennsylvania, people in need of a kidney transplant usually wait four to five years before a match is found. While waiting, he would report to a clinic to endure four-hour hemodialysis treatments three times a week and our entire family would seek comfort, strength, and support with organizations like The Gift of Life Donor Program and Donate Life Pennsylvania. After three difficult years, he received a call during Christmas. Megan Allman, a complete stranger and only 23 years old, was offering him the answer to his prayers, a live kidney and a second chance at life. Although the most personal, this is just one of the many heartbreaking and inspiring stories I have heard as an advocate for organ and tissue donation throughout the last five years.
18 people waiting for an organ will die today. As you read this, there are more than 8,000 Pennsylvanians on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant. Thousands more wait for tissue transplants that would greatly enhance their quality of life. When you register to become an organ and tissue donor, you give the most precious gift of all: life. By saying yes to organ and tissue donation, you can potentially save and enhance the lives of up to 50 people. It only takes 30 seconds. But you can make the difference of a lifetime.