On Wednesday, ECU Health Medical Center partnered with Honorbridge to celebrate National Donate Life Month and recognize organ and tissue donors, their families, those who are waiting for life-saving and life-changing donations, and recipients of organ and tissue donations.
The occasion was marked at 10:08 a.m. as the Donate Life flag was raised in front of ECU Health Medical Center, followed by a 30-second moment of silence. These two numbers are significant as the time symbolizes that one donor can save eight lives while the moment of silence recognizes the 3,000 North Carolinians waiting for an organ donation.
Dr. Walter Pofahl, chief medical officer for ECU Health Medical Center, said eastern North Carolina is home to a disproportionately high number of those 3,000 in North Carolina. Dr. Pofahl shared that last year ECU Health Medical Center had 31 organ donors, transplanted 90 organs while 18 were sent out for research. It also had 56 tissue donors with 141 tissues recovered and 90 eye donors with 84 corneas transplanted and 21 placed for research.
A daughter’s gift
During Wednesday’s event, Darice Fonville shared her inspiring story of donating her kidney to her mother in February.
Fonville said her mother had suffered from chronic kidney disease for about 20 years and as she began to struggle more, they learned she would need to find a donor or start dialysis. She knew that dialysis can be very difficult for patients, and she wanted to help her mother any way she could. So Darice decided to get tested to see if she would be a match.
“I was actually at work when I got the call, and they let me know we were a match,” Fonville said. “As soon as I got that call, everybody in the office already knew how excited I was. I put work on pause to go call my mom. She already knew, and she was nervous. I was excited. I knew it was a done deal. We were just going to go through with it.”
She said she never had any hesitation when she knew she could give something back to her mother and improve her life. She said the transplant team at ECU Health Medical Center put everyone at ease and allowed Fonville and her mother to be together shortly before surgery to spend time with one another.
How to give
Dr. Pofahl said while it is important to identify as an organ donor when you receive your driver’s license or state identification card, it’s just as important to share your wishes with those close to you.
“It’s not always easy, but having that discussion is important,” Dr. Pofahl said. “In that critical time when decisions are being made around donation, if your loved ones understand what your wishes are upfront and ahead of time, that makes the process a lot easier.”
While only about 50 percent of adults in North Carolina are registered organ donors, there are 3,000 people waiting for organ and tissue donations in North Carolina and more than 100,000 waiting for a donation across the country.
Learn more about how to become an organ donor and the impact you can make as a donor on Donate Life’s website.
ECU Health Transplant Services