Oklahoma has one of the highest number of registered organ donors in the country. However, there’s still about 700 people in the state, and 114,000 in the country waiting for their second chance at life.
Melissa Alvillar’s father Brett Rankin, donated a kidney to his brother almost 30 years ago. In 2017, 7News did a story with him about being an organ donor. At the time, Brett was also on a waiting list for a kidney as well, but sadly a month after the story aired, he passed away.
“He was a hero,” Alvillar said. “And that’s what these people do is they are heroes to the people they’ve chosen for their family member, or this individual has chosen to save other peoples lives.”
Caroline Turan works for LifeShare, a transplant donor service in Oklahoma.
“We want to make sure that if these people can live and recover, that’s what we want for everybody,” Turan said. “That’s what we want for these families, and for these patients. But if it gets to a point where that’s not what’s going to happen anymore, we will come in, we will talk with those families when its appropriate.”
At Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Robin House, the manager of the ICU, says last year they had a special case of organ donation.
“It was the first one in our hospital, after they died, they were able to take the lungs,” House said. “So that doesn’t happen very often, because it was after death.”
At the end of each year, LifeShare encourages every donor family to create a quilt square for their loved one, that they put together to make a quilt that is displayed in hospitals across the state.
“It’s something to also showcase the amazing gifts that people around us are giving,” Turan said.
“It’s individualized is really special,” House said. “The patients families are able to individualize it and make their own. And I think that that’s really special as well.”
Melissa says she encourages everyone to think about being a organ donor, because the feeling of giving someone a second chance at life is priceless.
“The greatest gift….the greatest gift. And these people whose life they’ve saved, a thank you is never enough,” Alvillar said. “That’s not anything that you can even express the gratitude that people have. You’ve saved their lives.”
LifeShare encourages all Oklahoman’s to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor and to share your decision with your family. You can give the gift of life by registering to be a donor at LifeShareRegistry.org.