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Today is National Organ Donor Day

Red heart shape and medical stethoscope on blue background top view. Health care, medicare and cardiology concept.

Thursday, February 14, is National Organ Donor Day. Valentine’s Day annually also doubles as National Organ Donor Day to bring attention to the plight of the many Americans whose lives could be saved if only there were more organs available for transplant.

In the United States, 114,000 are currently on the organ transplant waiting list. 82 percent of those on the list are waiting on a kidney. Those Americans could have a second chance if only an organ can be found in time.

Last year, the Alabama Political Reporter talked with one of those Americans on the donor waiting list.

Antoinette Berry lives in Hoover, Alabama, with her husband Thom. She is 72, has raised two sons, and has two grandchildren.

“I have had kidney disease for over 15 years,” Berry said.

Antoinette Berry has been on kidney dialysis for two years. Eight hours a night every night Antoinette is hooked up to a home dialysis machine to do the job removing toxins from her blood as her own kidneys can no longer function properly.

APR asked: A lot of people’s organs, their kidneys or livers or lungs fail because of the lifestyles they have lived. They consumed too much alcohol, abused drugs, or were chain smokers. Is that why your in this situation?

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“It is not related to alcoholism or drug use,” Antoinette said. “I have never drank or smoked. It was hypertension,” Antoinette said. “I was a lab tech for 48 years and I guess it was just the stress.”

Antoinette said that for some reason, according to doctors, one of her kidneys was much smaller than the other one. It has been doing almost all the work and now it is failing.
When Antoinette was put on the waiting list, she was told that the wait time would be 8 years.

The problem is that Antoinette doctors have told her she does not have eight years left.

“There are two things working against me: my age and I am blood type O negative, which is the hardest one to find a kidney,” Antoinette said. “I have been approved; but only with a live donor. The chances of survival with a donated kidney from a cadaver is minimal at my age.”

Antoinette said that she has two adult children; but neither of them are a match and her siblings are too old. Antoinette’s husband, Thom, can’t donate because he is diabetic and isn’t a match.

She has lived in Birmingham area all of her life and has been married to Thom Berry for 48 years.

“Do any means you can to find a kidney,’” Thom said they were told by the surgeon at UAB. “It was overwhelming to me to see the number of people dying from kidney disease.”

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If someone would like to volunteer to donate one of their kidneys to Antoinette call her transplant coordinator, Tameka Wiggins, at 205-975-7977.

Even if you are not a match, anyone who donates an organ who credits Antoinette with their decision helps move her up higher on the waiting list.

Antoinette has had some serious health setbacks in recent weeks and had a short hospital stay earlier this month.

Every ten minutes a new person is added to the waiting list. Over 750,000 organ transplants have occurred since 1988.

Today, 22 people will die on the organ waiting list; waiting for an organ that could have saved their lives. Over 8,000 Americans will die who might have lived if only a critical organ, usually a kidney, could be found.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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