When one person can lead many lives

The holidays have brought a plethora of organ donation-related stories.

baby_shakopee.jpgThe Shakopee Valley News has the sobering story of Sidney Markie, a 5 month old who needs a new stomach, pancreas, large and small intestine, liver and both kidneys. And the operation, which would need to be performed in Miami, has to happen all at once. So the girl’s family “has to pray for another infant to die from SIDS or an accident since the chances of a healthy baby dying at birth are unlikely and a sick baby’s organs are less likely to be useable,” according to the article.

The family has waged the insurance war, with doctors in Miami agreeing to accept payment

at the rate Minnesota would charge if the operation were taking place here.

But they’d have to get to Florida within three to six hours of when the organs are made available. And insurance will not cover the $10,000 that a medical helicopter flight would cost, so they have to hope they’d be able to get on a commercial flight on short notice. See the Caring Bridge site.

In California, an insurance company made the unusual move Monday of explaining why it refused to pay for a liver transplant for a 17-year-old girl. The insurance company relented last Thursday, but by then it was too late. The family had already taken her off life support.

Meanwhile, a Duluth area woman is being honored with a float in the Rose Parade. Karlynn Johnson died in 2005 and helped five people with the donation of her organs. She’ll be honored on a Donate Life float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.

In Perham, Minnesota, Greg and Debby Pouliot have met the man who received their son’s heart.

With a successfully surgery behind him and a gradual recovery, LeRoy Wegescheid adapted well to his new heart. As he and his wife Ruth reflected upon the incredible gift they had received from an unknown donor, they knew they had to find a tangible way to express their thanks.

The Perham Enterprise Bulletin describes how.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on people who want to donate kidneys, apparently for no other reason than they just want to help. It turns out, according to the article, that many hospitals turn the donors away, even as there’s more and more publicity to encourage people to donate organs after they die.

One of the concerns that transplant surgeons and others have about altruistic donors is that such people may be psychologically unstable and unrealistically hopeful that donating a kidney will change their lives for the better. There is near-universal agreement that these potential donors need particularly careful screening to make sure they are both physically and mentally healthy… Research at the University of Minnesota, the national leader in anonymous donors, found that of 360 inquiries between 1997 and 2003, just 42 went through the mandatory in-depth medical and psychological evaluation and only 22 transplants resulted.

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