Wanted: Organ Donors

By: Nichole Vrsansky
By: Nichole Vrsansky

It was a simple newspaper ad in the Rock River Times that saved four-year-old Angela Rushford's life. She was in need of a kidney, so her mother placed an ad in the classified section. A perfect stranger, who turned out to be a perfect match, replied.

Now the newspaper is trying to save even more lives.

The classified section in the Rock River Times has expanded - an entire column is now designated for organ donations. Those wishing to place an ad for an organ can do so for free.

It was a call Marieka McClendon says she won't soon forget: A desperate mother wanting to place a classified ad requesting a kidney for her daughter. McClendon says she was hesitant at first and never expected such a happy ending.

"I was kind of worried that I'd get in trouble for it because I didn't know if we could take ads like that, but yeah I'm happy," said McClendon.

The Editor and Publisher of the Times, Frank Schier: "The whole office is dancing around going 'We got a little girl a kidney, we got a little girl a kidney.'"

And now the Rock River Times is donating a section of their paper, hoping they can have that kind of celebration all over again.

"We saved a life and we'd like to save some more lives and we'd like to see some other newspapers, TV or radio stations and web sites try to do the same," said Schier.

The paper says the response so far has been tremendous. McClendon has already posted another classified ad for a kidney.

"It made me feel good that I was doing something to help people," McClendon said.

And while you don't want to think that someone would abuse this service, the paper is coming up with some guidelines that must be met to place an ad, such as having a note from a doctor.

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Organ and Tissue Donors

Each day about 63 people receive an organ transplant, but another 16 people on the waiting list die because not enough organs are available.

Talk to your family members about organ and tissue donation so they know your wishes.

Organ Donation Frequently Asked Questions

Who can become a donor

  • All individuals can indicate their intent to donate (persons under 18 years of age must have parent's or guardian's consent).

Are there age limits for donors?

  • There are no age limitations on who can donate. The deciding factor on whether a person can donate is the person’s physical condition, not the person’s age.

  • Newborns as well as senior citizens have been organ donors.

How do I express my wishes to become an organ donor?

  • Indicate your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver’s license.

  • Carry an organ donor card.

  • Most importantly, discuss your decision with family members and loved ones.

What can be donated?

  • Organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines

  • Tissue: cornea, skin, bone marrow, heart valves, and connective tissue

Are there any costs to my family for donation?

  • The donor’s family does not pay for the cost of the organ donation. All costs related to donation of organs and tissues are paid by the recipient, usually through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

How are the organ distributed?

  • Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors including blood and tissue typing, medical urgency, time on the waiting list, and geographical location.

Current Waiting List – As of July 19, 2002

  • Kidney Transplant – 52,766
  • Liver Transplant - 17,543
  • Pancreas Transplant - 1,329
  • Intestine Transplant - 192
  • Heart Transplant - 4,134
  • Heart-Lung Transplant - 210
  • Lung Transplant - 3,782

Source: http://www.organdonor.gov/ (U.S. Government Organ Donation Web site)


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