Need for organ donation increasing in Hawaii, nationwide

Published On: Apr 02 2014 09:40:31 PM HST

The Queen's Medical Center marked an important milestone Wednesday and highlighted the need for organ donation in our state and nationwide.

Click here for Lara Yamada's report.

It is a need growing fast as a lucky few find the lifeline they nearly lost.

"I get to spend more time with my grandchildren," said Marion Purdy.

Marion is number 101, the latest organ donor recipient at The Queen's Medical Center and it has become a legacy of saving lives.

"It's quite a milestone and really a tribute to so many people," said The Queen's Medical Center President Art Ushijima.

"It changed it tremendously. Now, I can get back to what I used to before," said organ recipient Antonio Panagan.

"It's really tough. My heart goes out to the people on that list because you aren't able to get that organ until you're really, really sick," said Sarah Chee, an organ recipient.

Sarah, a former alcoholic, had her liver fail shortly before her wedding. She was given two weeks to live.

"It was a bunch of hospital visits, ER visits; it was constant. I mean constant. She was that sick," said Marc Chee, Sarah's husband.

But in their arms is the end result of a donor's gift, their 13-month-old daughter Alexandria. The baby is the first baby born in Hawaii to an organ donor recipient.

"We're all here to honor him in what he has done, giving other lives, and we're happy. We're very grateful that it does this," said Malia Gabriel whose brother died last month.

Gabriel's 20-year-old brother was killed last week after a fight near his home. Today, his donated organs saved three lives.

"I double checked. I'm an organ donor," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Caldwell, Queen's and the Legacy of Life declared April "National Donate Life Month."

Non-profit Legacy of Life says 18 people who are waiting for an organ die every day.

Nationwide there are 122,000 on a waiting list. In Hawaii alone there are 432 people on that waiting list with more being evaluated.

"Now it brought me full circle. I'm a whole person now," said Antonio.

"My donor has given me three lives now, really. Mine, my daughter and one more on the way, so it's just really amazing," said Sarah.
Right now, less than half of Hawaii's population is organ donors.

Advances in the field have opened up transplants for everything from hearts and kidneys to corneas and bones.


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