Three Faces of Transplantation - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

Three Faces of Transplantation

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(SIOUX CITY, IA) They're three strangers with a unique bond.  One may eventually need a new liver.   One got a new kidney.   And one donated five of her son's organs. Tonight we look at "the three faces of organ donation."

"What they found out there was a hole in my intestine which was causing my intestine to leak into my abdomen cavity.   And that's what caused my kidneys to shut down."  These students at Sioux City's East High are getting a lesson in life.  "And it was a very difficult time," says speaker, Curt Green.  He is telling them about the years of health problems and dialysis he suffered through until his kidney transplant. "So it was nothing at all for me to go into dialysis and lose 10 to 13 pounds every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning."

"Fall of 2011 I was having side pain so I went up to Yankton," says April Tucker of Pierce, Nebraska.  She has the same genetic disorder that led to my liver transplant last year.   April, her husband Lonnie and I recently met for lunch at Chili's."and then I was jaundiced.   "And we didn't realize I was jaundiced because he's with me all the time," she says.  I told her it happens so gradually it's sometimes hard to notice.

Salon owner Becky Leigh has experienced organ transplants from "the other side," when her son Ryan Blanchard was shot to death in 2008.  "Both kidneys... his pancreas... his heart... and his liver, " were donated according to Leigh.  The donations happened when Ryan was taken off life support on his 17th birthday.

Leigh says a talk with her son a few years earlier led to the decision.  "Well, I had registered to be an organ donor in 2006 and Ryan and I had the discussion at the time that I had registered and he had indicated that he would like to be an organ donor as well if anything would ever happen to him."

These three represent the three faces of organ donation.

Like me, April's illness may one day cause so much damage she'll have to get a new liver.  "I worry 'cause if like they can't find a liver for me.   Because I'm young, my kids you know want to have their mom here for them and stuff.   And to be here for him, " adds Tucker.

For Curt the astonishing offer of a kidney from of a childhood friend, and a remarkable medical match led to a *live* donor transplant of a new kidney.  "You know if were to ask you to loan me ten bucks you know you'd get it back.   But, I ask for one of your organs, that's a whole different story," says Green.

These days Curt is well enough to enjoy his first love, baseball and the Minnesota twins.  And everyday he's grateful for the new life he's been given.  "Dialysis keeps you alive.   A kidney gives you life.   And it really did.   It really gave me life," he says.

For the Tuckers they hope there will someday be a solution to April's  kidney problems, but realize a transplant could become a necessity.  "You can't be scared on a daily basis of what could happen in the future," says April's husband Lonnie.

For Becky Leigh She hopes to one day meet some of the people she and her son gave new life, And that her story will help more people decide to give this precious gift.  "And I've had just so many people come to me and tell me they didn't donate the organs and now looking back on it they really wished that they had made that decision," says Leigh.

By Larry Wentz  lwentzx@siouxlandnews.com

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