'Donate Life’ program honors deceased donors whose organs, tissues change lives
Kidney recipient to raise first flag 9:30 a.m., Wednesday April 1st
March 30, 2009 – Portsmouth, VA – Tony Parker of Portsmouth is probably healthier than he has ever been. Since receiving the first simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant performed at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Parker has been free of diabetes that required daily insulin and kidney dialysis that tied up his life for the equivalent of an extra work day every week.
“I take better care of myself than I used to,” Parker says. “I can’t thank the person who did this for me face-to-face, but I can thank them by taking care of myself.”
Parker is speaking about the deceased organ donor whose kidney and pancreas radically improved his quality of life.
“I’m so sorry someone had to pass away for me to have a second chance,” Parker admits, “but this transplant put 10 or 20 years on my life.”
Tony Parker of Portsmouth received the first simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant performed at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital joins ‘Donate Life’ flag campaign
The organ donation team at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital understands the significance of organ donation, not just for the recipients, but for the families of deceased donors who often find comfort in knowing that their tragedy offered someone else the “second chance” described by Tony Parker.
“Flying a flag is a great way to educate the public about the work we do at our hospital and what people are willing to do for others,” says Ken Veazey, manager of chaplaincy at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and a member of the organ donation team who approach the families of dying patients about organ donation. Kidney recipient to raise first ‘Donate Life’ flag on Wednesday, April 1st
James Helton, a Safety & Security team leader at Sentara Norfolk General, received a kidney at the hospital in 2005 from a deceased 18 year-old donor in Kentucky after his kidneys failed from hypertension and Hepatitis C. Helton will raise the ‘Donate Life’ flag at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1st.
The flag program does not include dozens of living kidney donors who offer organs to family members, friends and even strangers throughout the year, giving Sentara Norfolk General one of the busiest kidney transplant programs in the state.
The flag program is reserved for those donors who can literally ‘Save 7 Lives’ by donating their hearts, lungs, livers, pancreas, kidneys and eyes, plus tissues used in skin grafts, tendon repairs and other restorative procedures.
“The benefit of deceased organ donation is immense,” says Betty Crandall, RN, director of transplant services at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. “Flying this flag in their memory will help other people see how important it is to expand the number of organ donors who check that box on their driver’s license. Flag to fly for a week each time a deceased donor provides organs
Initially, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital will fly a ‘Donate Life’ flag daily in front of the Kaufman Lobby during the entire month of April, which is national Donate Life month. After that, the flag will be flown for a week each time a deceased donor offers organs
and tissues for transplant. Based on annual donor experiences at Sentara Norfolk General, the flag could fly about twenty weeks per year. Tony Parker welcomes flag program
Diabetes was hard on Tony Parker’s body and he cannot be an organ donor, however, he insists, “If I could, I would.” He takes medication every day to prevent rejection of his transplanted organs, but he considers it a small price to pay to enjoy a piece of cake without worrying about his blood sugar.
He also enjoys being able to rest at home after a hard day’s work as a housekeeper for the Virginia Department of Transportation rather than spending three evenings per week on dialysis.
In place of donation, Parker is willing to have his story told so others might be inspired to donate their organs.
“It’s good that you’re doing this,” Parker says. “It’s all about second chances.” Learn more about organ donation and transplants: LifeNet Health United Network for Organ Sharing Save7Lives Donate Life Sentara Transplant Center