Thanks to Local Newspapers

I will be attending the Utah Press Association conference this evening. I always enjoy the opportunity to mingle with the Association members. These are the editors and/or owners of the newspapers, both large and small, in Utah.

I grew up in a herald journal Easten Karren copysmall town, reading the local weekly newspaper. I was kept updated on babies that were born, upcoming weddings and all local sporting events. I’m glad that newspaper is still reporting on local high school events, wedding announcements and the local issues that affect people in that community. While I subscribe to larger newspapers to keep up on what is happening in Utah and around the country, that local perspective is usually found only in those small local newspapers.

I also appreciate those newspapers (both daily and weekly) for the stories they cover about organ and tissue transplant recipients, and donors in the community. It highlights the great need and brings it back to the local community. I would encourage you, the next time you read an article or letter to the editor that highlights the great good that can come from organ, tissue or eye donation, to write to the newspaper and let them know you are a registered organ donor and that the story was important to you. It is always nice to get a little “thank you.”

Helene Dances with Ellen

Several months ago, I read about a young woman in Canada who was waiting for a lung transplant. She made the news when she reached out to Justin Bieber on Twitter. She asked him to use his voice to encourage others to be organ donors. Justin Bieber came through and tweeted about organ donation. Helene then reached out to Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen surprised her by calling her via Skype.

The really great thing about Helene was her positive attitude. She didn’t let her illness get her down as she reached out to others in support of organ donation. Several weeks after receiving her lung transplant, she Skyped with Ellen again and talked about how great she felt and how thankful she was to her donor family.

She recently got to appear live on Ellen. Click here to see a video clip from that interview.

If you haven’t already registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor, please consider saying yes. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found at www.yesutah.org.


I am sharing this poem, Numbers. It was written by RJ Walker in honor of his friend Brock, who died waiting for a liver transplant.

RJ Walker

Brock Butler


I used to find math so boring
Numbers just seemed so cold
So impersonal
Like talking to a blank wall

“So what’s it like being a wall?”
“…” Is all the wall replies

I was failing math class so I had to do something
So I started giving the numbers faces
And names
As if they were characters I could relate to

The number 0, for example,
Is appropriately named Nothing

The number 1,991 is named Beginning
Because that was the year I was born
And he used to be friends with 2,009, who I named Graduation
But they haven’t spoken in a while
So now they’re just facebook friends

The number 12, named Wage,
Is a broken lover
With 450, named Rent.
It’s kind of a love/hate thing.

Then there is the large and lonely 2,468,435
I’ve named him Tragedy
He is a remorseful glutton
His dark cloak grows larger and larger each year
He is the tombstone prophecy
He is the epitaph statistic
He is the number of Americans that die every year
And he is built out of his children

One of them is 750, Painful Patience.
He is the number of patients in pain
Waiting for an organ transplant in Utah

He is the prodigal husband of Pretty Corpse
The number 30
She is the percentage of people who did not check “yes”
Together, they have a son
18, named Failure
I’ve met him.
He’s the number of people who die of organ failure
Per day
Including my friend, Brock.

Failure always has this distraught look of hope on his face
As if he thinks his run-out father will come back home any day now

Then there is the number 1
I’ve named him Almost
Because that’s the number of people
That could have saved Brock’s life.

The Best Gift

DonorAware[1]I met with a scout this morning who is in the process of completing his paperwork to start on his Eagle Project.  He mentioned that when he began thinking of ideas for his project, he wanted to find something that had meaning for him.  When he learned that he could educate and encourage others to register as organ donors, he knew he had the right project. For him, this project has deep meaning; his dad had a kidney and pancreas transplant a little over 6 years ago.

Thanks to someone’s decision to donate organs, he will be able to spend Christmas with his dad tomorrow.  That gift is far more valuable than anything else he or his family could receive.

He came in with his dad and, seeing them together, I was reminded of the importance of that decision to put a small, red “Y” on your driver license or ID card.  During this holiday season, I wish you happiness and the opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

Interesting Article on Early Transplants

Dr. Joseph E. Murray

Dr. Joseph E. Murray

Joseph E. Murray, the doctor who performed the first successful kidney transplant in 1954, passed away last month.  When I heard the news, I had to reflect on how amazing that would have been at that time.  We know so much more about the immune system and rejection now.  Earlier this week, our Director at Intermountain Donor Services gave me an article that was written by Dr. Murray back in 2005.  In this article, he tells of an experience that made him believe the immune system could be tamed, making transplantation possible.  Here is a link to the article.  After clicking on the link, you will need to scroll down to get to the article.  Definitely worth reading.

A Family Discussion

Did you mark ‘yes’ on your driver license last time you renewed?  Did you go home and talk about your decision?  Technically, if you are over 18 years old, all you need to do is mark yes on your driver license or register online at www.yesutah.org.  But let’s get beyond technical and on to real life!

When tragedy hits, the family not only has to deal with emotions ranging from grief, to shock, to anger, but they are also facedWebsite picture with decisions that are difficult to make.  Add to that a discussion about organ donation when it has never been discussed as a family.  Will your family be surprised that you are an organ donor?  Will they readily accept your decision?

Have you ever considered that you might be faced with making the decision for a minor?  As a parent, you and your spouse will have to come to a decision.  As a sibling, you might be asked for your input.  These are not decisions any family wants to make, but these decisions are reality for every donor family and the decision is so much easier if talked about beforehand.

Please talk about organ donation with your family.  You can find answers to frequently asked questions on the Yes Utah website, www.yesutah.org.  If you have a question that is not addressed on the website, please call our office at 1-866-937-8824.

Imagined Fear

You are walking down a dark passageway.  There is fog blocking your view and moss hangs down, rubbing across your head andchainsaw shoulders.  Suddenly, someone with a chainsaw jumps in your path.  His face is pale and blood drips from a wound on his cheek.  You jump and your heart races, but down deep, you know it isn’t real.

Not only is this not real, you actually paid money for someone to frighten you like this.

P1014687You are in an accident.  You are rushed to the hospital, but when you get there, someone looks at your driver license.  They see you are an organ donor and move on to the next room.  They will not try to save your life!

You do know this isn’t real either, right? Sadly, it is still one of the most common misconceptions regarding organ donation.

The fact is, the medical team’s number one priority is to save your life.  Emergency room doctors are not even involved in the transplant surgery.

Eighteen people die every day waiting for a life saving organ transplant.  Don’t let myths and misconceptions stop you from signing up on the Utah Donor Registry.  If you want to be scared this Halloween, visit a haunted house or get lost in a corn maze.  Organ donation is not scary; don’t belief the myths.  Get the facts at www.yesutah.org.

The Donation Decision

It can be difficult to make an important decision, especially if you don’t feel like you have enough information? What if you had decisionto make that important decision for someone else?

A woman named Natalie had to make an important decision several years ago.  She and her husband had never discussed organ donation and she wasn’t ready to make that decision when he died.  Watch Natalie’s Story.  I love that Natalie is willing to tell her story, even though she would have made a different decision if she would have known more about organ donation at the time.  She wants others to take the time to have that discussion.

Please discuss organ donation with your family.  Log on to www.yesutah.org to get answers to frequently asked questions or call 1.800.833.6667 for answers to additional questions.

The Gift that Gave Me My Future

This was written by a tissue recipient named Trisha.

I think as people look back on their lives, they will be able to identify defining moments – pivotal choices or experiences that completely altered the course of their lives.  One of my defining moments came on December 14, 2010, the day I became a tissue transplant recipient.

Nine months earlier I had suscroppedtained a traumatic injury to my knee, tearing my ACL, meniscus, and a large piece of cartilage from my femur.  In June, I had surgery to reconstruct my ACL and repair my meniscus, but without the cartilage repaired, my rehabilitation quickly plateaued.  By October, I found myself in tears in physical therapy as I still had too much pain to walk without crutches, and I began to face the uncertainty of my future.  As a young adult, I wondered about the things I might never be able to do again – things like hiking, kneeling to play with my nephews, and even walking without severe pain.  A few days later, my orthopedic surgeon presented a ray of hope – a second surgery that would place a graft of juvenile donor cartilage in my knee.  Because the cartilage would come from a donor who was twelve year old or younger, the cartilage would continue to grow when transplanted in my knee.

On December 14, after nine months without any significant improvement in my levels of pain or function, I awoke from surgery with the gift of donor tissue in my knee.  Three months later, I was walking without crutches.  Six months after that, I began jogging, jumping and doing things that my physical therapists never thought I would be able to do.  Through the course of my surgeries and rehabilitation, I became interested in the field of physical therapy.  I want to help others as I have been helped.  I am especially interested in working in neurologic or pediatric physical therapy.  I want to end each day of my career feeling that I have made a difference and helped to improve someone’s life.  I will begin the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Utah in May.

People talk about organ donation being the gift of life.  Although I received a tissue transplant and not an organ transplant, my transplant is still my gift of life.  The transplant may not have saved my life, but it made my future possible.  Every patient I ever help as a physical therapist I will help because a family made a decision to turn the tragic loss of their child into a blessing for others such as myself.  Each step I take without pain is a miracle to me.  I want to help others become aware of the benefits of organ and tissue donation.  I know that I will never be able to repay the gift I have been given, but I want to do all I can to serve others through my career and through promoting awareness of organ and tissue donation.

To register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, log on to www.yesutah.org.

Bieber Re-tweets!

Can one person make a difference?  Helene Campbell, a 20 year old woman from Toronto, Canada, is currently waiting for a lung transplant.  Last week, she sent a message to Justin Bieber on Twitter.  The message was simply, “Hey @justinbieber! I BELIEB you should use that Canadian voice of yours and help save lives like mine,” with hashtags #beanorgandonor and #giveblood.

Helene didn’t know if her simple tweet would make a difference or event be answered, but she thought it was worth trying.  Onhelene campbell Saturday, Bieber re-tweeted the message, reaching 16.6 million followers, writing, “@alungstory i got the word … you have amazing strength. i got u.”  Bieber added the hashtag #BeAnOrganDonor.

Since then, The Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario has received over 1,000 new online registrations.  As per their facebook page, “The great run continues – since Thursday there have been over 1,000 new online registrations. If you didn’t believe in the power of Twitter before…”

I have watched these headlines with interest.  Helene made the news with her message before Beiber had even responded back.   That simple effort on her part made a difference in registration rates.  Then to have Beiber respond dramatically increased the number of people registering online.  This just goes to show that one person really can make a difference.

If you are not already registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor, choose to make a difference.  Log on to www.yesutah.org and register today.