Ceremony recognizes families of organ donors, recipients of transplant
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington resident David Lockwood has a heart that beats to a different tune. That's because he has had someone else's heart inside his chest for the past 13 years.
Lockwood served as one of the speakers Saturday at the Eastern Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates Recognition Ceremony, held at St. Mary's Center for Education.
The annual event serves to honor the families of organ donors, highlight a person who has received an organ donation and also remind folks that there are those still waiting for a donation.
Lockwood received a phone call at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 23, 2001, that he needed to get to the University of Kentucky Medical Center. In the rush along Interstate 64, his car was pulled over for speeding, although he said the officer not only granted mercy but provided an escort into Lexington.
"I woke up from that surgery better than I had felt in four years," he said. "And I've enjoyed the birth and growth of three grandchildren."
He said the donor family is always on his mind, and he has written to them with the message that "he's taking care of me, and I'm taking care of him."
Lockwood also told a Louisville family who is waiting for a liver transplant that he was on a waiting list for three-and-a-half years before he finally got his call. That provided some comfort to Colin and Marianne Mattoon, who found out earlier this year that a transplant is the only cure for the young wife.
"I have vanishing bowel duct syndrome," she said. "It's very rare, incurable and not treatable. Your liver will continue to deteriorate until you die. The one thing that will save you is a transplant."
She has been battling health problems for two years, leaving the couple to face financial adversity, the uncertainty of whether they can start a family and the fear that she could lose her life.
The journey, however, inspired Colin Mattoon to accept a job with KODA last year that has allowed him to learn a great deal about organ donation. He said there are 122,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list, with 18 dying each day.
What gives them and others hope, though, is that one donor can save the lives of eight people.
"Organ donation gives hope to us and life to families," he said. "And we should celebrate that."
Also speaking Saturday was Melissa Corman, who also recently started working for KODA in the Lexington office. She lost her 22-year-old son, Zachary Hutchens, in 2008 following an auto accident. She was approached by a KODA representative about donating his organs, and a friend of her son told her that was something Hutchens had talked about wanting to do.
At his funeral, several friends pulled out their driver's licenses to show her they were organ donors because Hutchens had urged them to do so.
His donation saved five lives.
For more information about becoming an organ donor or joining a surviving family group, visit https://donatelife.wv.gov if you live in West Virginia; www.kyorgandonor.org for Kentucky; and http://www.donatelifeohio.org for Ohio.
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