Truly Grateful

Organ donation makes a difference and makes sense.


Like a thief in the night, death can be sudden and surprising or similar to the pesky little chipmunk, knawing at your plants each day it can be a long drawn out ordeal. I counted approximately four incidents when I "died" while battling Congestive Heart Failure.

By this I mean, my heart had stopped temporarily. Either due to heart medications, defibrillator, cardioversion paddles or the will of God, I came through them all. I hung on long enough to be re-born through the miracle of a heart transplant on April 17, 2008. I was an extremely lucky forty-five year old man.

Unfortunately, there are thousands awaiting transplants of some nature but never receive them. Many of these people will die. We are increasing the general public's awareness of the organ donation through the media and other groups but the numbers are still staggeringly low.

According to the New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN), only 18 percent of the population is registered. (The national median is 42 percent.) 

I'm frequently asked was I a donor before becoming sick. I always give the honest answer "No." We didn't have the abundant knowledge of organ donation back then.

As a young man, I never took the time to stop, listen and perhaps make a difference. "That doesn't apply to me" seems to be one piece of logic. My testimony begs to differ.

Now when I speak to large groups or stand outside of DMV encouraging those to make a difference, I feel great about myself and the fact that my unselfish donor had the courage to want to help just in case. I am forever indebted to that gracious twenty-one year old male and his family.

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Dina Sciortino February 17, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Thanks for sharing your story Kelvin, and what a great smile!
David J Undis February 17, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Kelvin Smith was very lucky to get a Heart transplant. There are now over 112,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year. There is another good way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – if you don’t agree to donate your organs when you die, then you go to the back of the waiting list if you ever need an organ to live. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 50% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven’t agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,900 members, including 809 members in New York.
Catherine Paull February 18, 2012 at 04:30 AM
It was wonderful to read your story today, especially because on my flight to Phoenix yesterday, I sat next to a gentleman from Germany who was transporting bone marrow to a recipient. He explained to me that he is retired, lives in Munich and that he volunteers to be a courier for tissue and organs, and as such he travels around the world. As most of us go on with our lives, some people are facing life and death situations and other people are helping them win the battle.
Kelvin Smith February 18, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Great post Catherine! The world is a better place because of people like that gentleman from Germany.
Kelly Galimi February 21, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Kelvin, God bless all who help give the most beautiful gift: the gift of life. Thank you for sharing your story and promoting the need for organ donation.


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