The gift of life

The choice to be an organ donor is one that affects most high schoolers today. After passing a drivers test, students are faced with that decision. For some the answer may be simple; for others not so much. For Jennifer Feucht, it was one she never anticipated she’d have to make.

“When our son, Jarret, was killed in a car accident he was Life flighted to Children’s Hospital. He suffered a neck injury; he broke his neck. His organs were still functioning. At that point I spoke with the doctor and I asked them if he was eligible to be an organ donor and they said absolutely,” Feucht said.

There are multiple organizations that help with organ donation. In Feutch’s case, her and her family worked with Life Line Ohio, an independent, nonprofit organization, promoting the donation of human organs and tissue for transplantation.

Illustration by Molly Cooke

“Transplantation of hearts, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and livers has emerged as the preferred and most successful treatment of many life-threatening diseases. Today there are more than 117,000 Americans on the transplant waiting list, with more than 2,900 waiting in Ohio,” said.

Organ donation is a process that anyone can participate in, living or not. It can save the lives of those who have gone into organ failure or have a diseased organ

“Living organ donation can occur with one kidney, part of liver, pancreas and/or intestine. Donor and organs need to be physically healthy to undergo surgery,” Michelle Young, a nurse nurse practitioner at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, as well as a heart transplant coordinator said.

In the event that a patient is announced deceased, there is a whole process that takes place before any sort of procedure or donation can happen.

“What doctors do is they actually sit down with you and ask you what you’d be willing to donate. And, because he was a child we just wanted to be very minimal. We said you can use his heart, his liver and his kidneys. We didn’t want it to be too invasive,” Feucht said.

Another major organ donation organization like Lifeline, is the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

“It is the transplant process that UNOS is more involved with. We match deceased donor organs with transplant candidates on the waiting list,” Anne Paschke, a Media Relations Specialist at UNOS said.

Outside of being a donor, there are plenty of things one can get involved in to support the cause. On both the Lifeline of Ohio and UNOS websites there are plenty of events and fundraisers to be a part of to spread knowledge about organ donation.

Paschke said, “We hold an annual Tree of Life ceremony for donor families in Virginia each year.” As well, Lifeline holds a 5k run every year in July to raise awareness according to Feucht.

Utilizing one’s resources to learn more about organ donation is extremely important because even if one chooses not to donate, it’ll be an educated decision. Taking the time to ask questions and voice concerns with professionals is a valuable thing to do so that one can decide what they really want for themselves.

“After Jarret passed away, we were in contact with the family that received Jarret’s heart and it turned out that a two year old boy got his heart. His name is Adam and since then we have been friends with the family. A few years ago Lifeline of Ohio paid to have their whole family flown out here to Columbus and we got to spend the whole day with them and meet Adam. He’s now 12 years old. Without that transplant he would’ve died,” Feucht said.

Illustration by Molly Cooke


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