Stories about: Donate life month

A life taken. A life given. A life shared.

Kaitlyn, donor, and Hannah, recipient
Kaitlyn and Hannah

When she read the article in the Cape Cod Times about the 11-year-old girl who underwent a life-saving liver transplant, Melissa Dunphe knew.

“Too many pieces fit for it not to be.”

She knew that the child, who was at the same hospital on the same floor on the same day, had to be the one who received her five-year-old daughter Kaitlyn’s liver.

Five years earlier, at eight months old, Kaitlyn was in a car accident that left her without the use of her limbs and unable to breathe on her own.

During her short life, her parents made moments matter.

“She was a very happy child,” her mom Melissa says. “She loved life — going for walks, having her nails painted and going to the beach. “We knew she wouldn’t live long, but I never expected it to be so soon.”

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My blue-eyed boy: The decision to donate life

Aidan the chefHot, humid air arrived that last week in June 2014. Our family was looking forward to a summer of entertaining, barbecuing and sharing our newly built patio with friends. Spending time as a family hiking, traveling or just hanging out at home was important to us. Aidan was ready to head off to a three-day goalie lacrosse camp. It was something he had begged to do all winter long.

Aidan loved life and he lived it with passion. Aidan or AJ, depending on who you asked, had his future completely planned. He played basketball, swam and skied. As a Boy Scout, he had spent many days camping and hiking throughout New England and he worked each day delivering the local paper on his bike. In the winter, he loved to create huge, elaborate snow forts. On vacations, he and his two siblings were thrill-ride junkies. He loved to draw and doodle.

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6 ways to celebrate National Donate Life Month

Each year, during the month of April, National Donate Life Month draws attention to those who have saved and healed lives through the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation. Here are six simple ways to participate, celebrate and educate.

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Become an organ donor.

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  • Register to be a donor at registerme.org.
  • Designate “organ donor” on your driver’s license.
  • Visit transplantliving.org to learn more about becoming a living donor.

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Dispelling myths about organ donation

April is Organ Donation Awareness Month, and Boston Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Transplant Center would like to remind people just how important organ donation is to saving thousands of lives, including children. Right now 120,000 people are on the organ donation list, and 1,735 of those people are pediatric patients. (Of all these patients, 18 will die every day waiting for an organ to become available.)

Almost 2,000 young patients are on the organ donation list

Data shows that a majority of Americans are aware and supportive of organ donation, but only about 60 percent actually take the steps to become an organ donor. One of the biggest roadblocks to getting more people to register as organ donors is misinformation about the process. To help clear up any doubts our readers may have, we’ve created the following list of the more common myths about organ donation and explained why they are untrue.

Myth: Doctors don’t work as hard to save patients who are organ donors because there is such a big need for donated organs.

Truth: For all medical professionals, the first and most important goal is to treat and help their patients. What’s more, organ donation is organized and orchestrated through an impartial third party called an organ procurement and transplantation network (OPTN), so a medical team treating a patient has no knowledge or say in how a person’s organs are allocated. In many cases, while the doctors are trying to save a patient they will have no idea if he or she is eligible to be an organ donor.

Myth: I’ve heard of people who were declared dead that weren’t really gone. I don’t want to lose an organ if I still need it!

Truth: These types of stories make for great headlines, but cases of people being declared dead when they are actually alive are extremely rare in the United States. To be extra careful, the medical community has created specialized tests that are performed in order to confirm that a patient’s brain has, in fact, died. Only after the person has been declared dead can the process of organ donation begin.

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