Three years ago Nancy Davis had a five-year-old son who was waiting for a heart and lung transplant. The Davis family lived in Los Angeles at the time and waited for about 20 months until, unfortunately her son passed away never having received the needed transplant. Since then Nancy has been committed to donor recruitment and spreading the word about how important transplantation is and that it really does save lives.
Davis is now the community development coordinator for Life Alaska, Inc., a non-profit corporation for tissue and organ donation in Alaska. "The most important thing is to talk to your family about it. Have a discussion with your family now before something happens or a tragedy occurs. So you know what your loved ones wishes are and you're not dealing with it during a tragic situation," said Davis who was a guest speaker of the Soldotna Rotary Club last week.
Life Alaska is the organ and tissue procurement agency for the State of Alaska, offering the option of organ and tissue donation to families throughout the state. The organization works closely with LifeCenter Northwest Donor Network and since 1992 has had over 1,500 donors that have supplied more than 3,100 tissue transplants to Alaskan patients from Barrow to Ketchikan.
Organ donation occurs when a patient has died from irreversible brain injury resulting in brain death. Tissue donation can occur up to 24 hours after the heart has stopped. Age criteria for transplantable organs and tissue is generally from birth to mid 70's with any age for research. All tissue that is donated to Life Alaska is first offered to Alaskan patients and physicians before being made available outside the state. As of July 2001, there were 77,447 people on the national waiting list for an organ transplant, and approximately 15 men, women, and children die each day on the waiting list because there are not enough donors.
To become a donor you can visit the local AK. Department of Motor Vehicles on K-Beach Rd., call Life Alaska in Anchorage at 562-5433, or visit the website at www.lifealaska.org.
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