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Sarah Clynes Uses Personal Experience To Advocate Organ Donation


2009 Horizon League Player of the Year Sarah Clynes
2009 Horizon League Player of the Year Sarah Clynes

Aug. 28, 2009

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Former UIC softball standout Sarah Clynes knows the importance of organ donation very well. Using her family's current situation as an example, Clynes wrote the following piece in regards to organ donation.

Organ donation is one of the most precious gifts someone may give.

My sister, Melissa, is a living example of how organ donation can save someone's life.

At the age of 19, I don't know anyone else who has been through such difficult struggles as Melissa. At just ten days old, my sister was given a second chance at life when she received a heart transplant. As my family watched Melissa grow and experience such a great quality of life, we were overwhelmed with great joy.

However, at the age of 16, anti-rejection medication she had been taking for her heart ultimately destroyed her kidney. Melissa would need a kidney transplant in order to survive. Once again, our family was blessed, as my mother was a complete match and was able to donate her kidney to my sister.

Unfortunately, with complications from a rare virus that Melissa caught last year, we were faced with devastating news this past April that Melissa's kidney has failed and she would need another kidney transplant.

I have learned so much over the past couple of years and seeing what a strong young lady my sister has become. Although this has been such a long struggle for my sister, you never hear her complain or lower her quality of life.

Many people are completely unaware of the importance of organ donation. I have been able to enjoy being a college athlete, attend a world-class university away from home in a wonderful city, and meet many new people who I have formed lasting relationships with over the last four years. These simple things that are often taken for granted by a young adult my age are things that my sister may not be able to experience without the gift of organ donation.

After my family and I had all been tested and were told none of us were a match for Melissa, we were heartbroken. However, I took the news as an opportunity to promote organ donation awareness, especially live donation. I am currently on a list as a live kidney donor in hopes that I may be able to save someone else's life. Spreading the word about organ donation gives my family and I hope that someone, who otherwise has not thought about it, would come forward and get tested and possibly be a match for my sister or one of the thousands of other people waiting on an organ.

I have listed below some facts and frequently asked questions about organ donation and my family's personal experience.

In response to the shortage of organs for transplants, relatives, loved ones, friends, and even altruistic strangers are serving as living donors for the approximately 100,000 people on the national organ transplant (cadaver) waiting list.

What makes a good donor:
1. Willingness to donate
2. Good health
3. Between the ages of 18-55 years old
4. Blood type (Melissa needs a kidney from type A or O blood)

Positive aspects of living donation:
1. The gift of an organ can save the life of a transplant candidate
2. Kidneys from live donors result in better graft survival, lower rates of acute rejection and improved long-term functioning

The testing process to be a live kidney donor is a simple blood test. In Melissa's case, the test and surgery will be fully covered by Melissa's insurance company at no cost to the potential donor.

In terms of surgery and recovery, laparoscopic surgery is used for kidney donation. My mother was only in the hospital for two days and back to work within two weeks; a live kidney lasts nearly twice as long and works immediately compared to cadaver donation.

If you are thinking of becoming an organ donor or know someone who may be interested, don't wait, because you could potentially save someone's life tomorrow! If you would like to know anything else regarding my sister's situation, how to get tested, or become a live organ donor, you can contact:

Jean Bowe
Director of Kidney Transplant Services at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis
Phone: 314-362-5365
Toll-free: 800-633-9906
E-mail: jmb1604@bjc.org

-Sarah Clynes

Other helpful organ donation websites:

OrganDonor.Gov

DonateLife.net

LifeGoesOn.com

Members of the UIC community can learn more about health and wellness issues through the UIC Wellness Center.

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