Letter: Don't wait, become a living donor now

Don't wait, become a living donor now

To the editor:

I enjoyed the August 17 article regarding organ donation and how it saves lives. To become donor hero, it takes a simple sign-up at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or online to be able to save lives upon your death.

However, I'd like to add information on how you can be a hero, now. There is an seemingly invisible option for donating life. You do not need to die to give the gift of life to another.

I am a living kidney donor, and there are many in the community like me. Many local people have benefited from living donations, and are quietly going on with their active and grateful lives. Whether you make a specific donation, or choose to direct your donation to the next eligible person on the waiting list, your gift of life is one that has no equivalent for yourself, and of course, your recipient.

My story began in 2007 when I heard of a local person's need for a kidney and decided that I'd prefer to donate now, rather than not know if I would be a viable donor at the time of my death. My personal donation eventually was directed to a man who was not able to undergo dialysis and therefore had a terminal prognosis without an immediate living donation. And although he had volunteer donors from family members, the matches were not compatible. Mine was. My kidney recipient's family donor was matched to another person who was also at the end of life and could no longer continue dialysis.

This was the first four-person living donation done at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Our four lives have been affected so positively that no words can describe it, and we are forever connected like family.

This information is intended to point out that the possibility for average healthy people to continue the life of another is quite within reach. Transplant teams are located at Baystate Medical Center and at UMass Memorial in Worcester. These locations serve patients throughout Western Massachusetts.

If you are healthy, you do not need two kidneys, and can live well with one. And for a liver donation, the liver can re-generate to normal function if a portion is donated. There are many people in our local community in need of a transplant as noted in the article.

If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to sign up to be an organ donor at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, or online with the New England Organ Bank or the National Kidney Foundation. And consider being a hero — now — and save a life through your living donation.

Lydia Carollo, North Adams


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