November 9, 2012

Editorial:Organ donation, the greatest gift


---- — If ever anyone needed an impetus to enroll in an organ-donation program, all the evidence that should be needed was on Page A6 of Tuesday’s Press-Republican. There, writer Jeff Meyers chronicled a meeting between the family of a liver donor and the recipient of the organ. It was more than touching.

A family from Chicago, themselves the victims of enough grief for any family, became entwined with a Willsboro man when one of the members of that family decided precipitously to donate her organs should ultimate misfortune befall her. It did.

She died in a motorcycle accident, releasing life-saving organs for desperately ill individuals. One of those people was Harold Tart of Willsboro.

Nine years ago, he was losing ground against liver cancer, and a transplant was his only hope. Accident victim Linda Reilly’s liver was implanted to replace his failing one, and a life continued that otherwise would have ended.

Our story revolved around a reunion, of a kind, that was set up so that Linda Reilly’s two sisters could meet Tart and his four grateful daughters in Willsboro recently. It was the kind of heartwarming story we love to write and readers love to read.

Just imagine, if Reilly had not been struck by the inspiration to donate and if that salvation had never been made available to Tart. What a waste it would have been for that liver to have wound up in a casket or a crematorium.

Instead, it not only is keeping Harold Tart alive, functioning and happy today, it is spreading the benefits of his presence throughout his family and friends and everything he touches.

Reilly’s Chicago sisters, Lisa Szewczyk and Leslie Couty, testified that they had the feeling that they’d been somehow reunited with their sister through Tart. Surely, Reilly would have been gratified at the outcome of her decision.

Nationwide, in 2009, more than 16,000 people were on the waiting list for a liver donation; more than 6,000 transplants were performed, with an almost 90-percent survival rate. Most reflected the success of Tart’s experience. It took an average of about 10 months for a recipient to receive a liver. (Applicants are rated according to need, so not every one had an urgent, immediate requirement.)

If you have not made your wishes known that you want to be a donor, please consider doing so.

It goes without saying that those life-pumping organs inside your body will do you no good after your demise. And they could very well be the source of a second chance and an extended life and happiness for someone else.