A Local Mom's Story About Organ and Tissue Donation

Today I'd like to welcome my dear friend Dara from Bridgeport to FCC as a guest blogger. April is Donate Life month and I hope her personal story below will move you to join the organ and tissue donor registry on the Donate Life Connecticut web site at www.ctorganandtissuedonation.org.


April is National Donate Life Month and I know firsthand how important this is. I am sending this message and sharing my story in hopes that you will take action and become a registered organ, eye and tissue donor. It could save lives.

I had a son, Tyler Haywood Smith born on Sept. 4, 1991. On the day when we were about to take him home we were told that something was not right and I must bring him to my pediatrician first thing on Monday morning. We went on Monday and were told that he was more than just a little jaundiced and they were sending us to John Hopkins Hospital. After several weeks of testing at Hopkins I was told he had Biliary Atresia. Bilary Atresia is a disease that, at the time, affected one out of ten thousands babies. Bilary Atresia is when the bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent. I was told that if this was happening three years ago I would be told to go home and enjoy my time with my son. Instead, because of advances in medicine, I was told that I could be one of the lucky ones: my son could have a life saving transplant.

I could not believe this. This was me, this was not a dream or a TV show. This was me and my family's life and it was our son and Alexis' brother they were talking about. Tyler needed to take medicine everyday and in time he would need a liver transplant. It was hard because he was not as sick as the other kids with this disease. Yes! He was a little yellow and his belly stuck out some, but he was not as sick as other kids that were on the transplant waiting list. You had to be sick to move up on the list.

I knew how I felt before I learned about organ donation. I was afraid of it. I did not realize how it could save someone's life nor did I know how many people were dying because they needed a transplant. No one was talking about it back then. I had to learn more...because my son was dying. When Tyler was 8 months old, we started looking for other options. We learned that if we were compatible we could do a living related transplant. It was a new option and only a few hospitals were doing it. I had to do it. I learned both my liver and the part I donated to Tyler would rejuvenate fully in both of us. People told us we were crazy. They told me I had more than one child. I knew we were not crazy, this was my child...and I would do anything to save his life. The hospital put us through so many tests to make sure this is really what I wanted to do and that I was healthy enough to endure the donation surgery. The day came for our surgeries: I donated part of my liver to Tyler. The transplant was successful and things went well for several months.

Tragically, in our case, Tyler had other complications and did not make it. While this is still very hard for me, one of the things that I find comforting is that Tyler's heart is living in a young lady who is probably about 19 years old now. Tyler became an organ and tissue donor when he passed away. Tyler gave life to others when he no longer had his own. Not a day goes by that I do not think of families that are going through what my family went through. I am telling you this story because... April is National Donate Life Month. To honor my son's memory, I volunteer with Donate Life Connecticut. Donate Life Connecticut plays a crucial role in the field of organ, eye and tissue donation. Nearly 1000 Connecticut residents are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant...and nationally over 100,000 Americans are waiting for their second chance at life. Unfortunately, there are not enough people saying 'yes' to donation, and 18 people die daily simply because an organ wasn't available. Through compelling educational programs and materials, Donate Life Connecticut empowers residents to make an informed decision about donation and to register their decision to save lives with the state donor registry. Please take a moment to consider my family's story and to educate yourself about donation from their website: www.ctorganandtissuedonation.org.Hopefully, you will decide that donation is right for you and you'll join the organ and tissue donor registry (from the website). Also, I urge you to consider Donate Life Connecticut in your yearly charitable giving. Donate Life Connecticut is funded by concerned individuals, businesses and foundations that assist us to deliver our lifesaving message to the public. An honorarium, memoriam in Tyler Smith name or general contribution can be given online at www.ctorganandtissuedonation.org/howyoucanhelp/monetarycontributions.html

Thank you for taking a minute to learn how you can save lives.

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