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The Gift of Life
The Gift of Life
Melanie Kerr
Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Mrs. Dusing’s health class hosted two special presenters Wednesday, October 30, 2019:  Jan Eschen, Regional Coordinator for the Organ/Tissue Donor Program and Eric Donaldson, heart transplant recipient.  

Jan Eschen explained what it meant to be an organ donor and recipient.  She explained how there is a network of organizations that work together to register, organize and manage information.  She discussed and answered questions on the kinds of organs/tissue that can be donated, and touched on considerations such as blood type, tissue type, body size and location when a transformation takes place.  She said a person can never be too young or old to donate. Those most in need have top priority and when a person has given permission for their organs and tissue to be recovered in the event of their death the doctor is notified and a life saving surgery is initiated.

Eric Donaldson (Mr. D) was a teacher for 38 years and the last 30 he taught in the Pecatonica School District #321.  In 1999 he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a defibrillator was implanted and allowed him to manage his heart’s irregular rhythm for many years.  Last July 2018, Eric’s heart began misfiring and he and his wife were shocked when a doctor at the University of Chicago told him that he had 6 months to live unless he received a heart transplant.  He was immediately put on the donor/recipient list and on August 12, 2018 a team of doctors were able to successfully transplant a new heart to Mr. D. The operation took 4 hours but he did not walk out of the hospital for three months until November 1, 2018.  Mr. D. needed to get healthy to prepare for the surgery and lost 20 pounds prior to surgery and another 60 pounds post surgery. He walks 3 miles a day and takes many medications. He told the students that he was very grateful to be in Pecatonica one year later sharing his story because a person chose to register to become a donor and give him the gift of life.

Photos by Mel Kerr