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April is National Donate Life month

Just one donor can save up to eight lives. However, only two percent of the population will be...
Just one donor can save up to eight lives. However, only two percent of the population will be a candidate for organ donation.(Donate Life Louisiana | Donate Life Louisiana)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 2:46 PM CDT
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published April 14, 2021 at 5:10 AM CDT - Updated April 14 at 9:44 AM on ksla.com)

(Great Health Divide) - The gift of life can never be taken for granted.

The month of April was designated as National Donate Life Month. Right now in Louisiana, over 2,000 people are waiting on a life-saving organ transplant.

“Clearly, there is a significant need for organ donation,” said Dr. Gazi Zibari, director of transplantation services for Willis-Knighton. “There are too many generous people who live in our communities who are willing to help others out. Nothing is better than giving the gift of life.”

According to Zibari, there is always a transplant surgeon on-call, ready to help save a life at a moment’s notice.

Just one donor can save up to eight lives. Only two percent of the population will be a candidate for organ donation.

“You can potentially get the heart out, two lungs out, you can get two kidneys out, you can get liver and pancreas out,” Zibari said. “So you can get multiple organs out and help people — especially the younger ones.”

For Wytonia McBride, a Minden resident, the act of organ donation is personal. In 2019, her son, Joshua McBride, was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Leesville, La.

“They fired off two rounds and the second one ended up hitting Joshua in the neck,” Wytonia said. “At 2 a.m., we got the knock at the door from my relatives saying we needed to be at the hospital.”

According to Wytonia, her son was in a series of Louisiana hospitals from February through August - a period of about seven months. Tragically, he was paralyzed from the neck down; his doctors later said he no longer had brain function.

That’s when the Mcbride’s were introduced to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency.

“I think about how God gave His son for us, so that we could live and have an opportunity to see Him eventually,” she explained. “I thought, ‘hey, that’s my boy and if he’s going to be a blessing to someone else then I’m all for it.’”

Joshua’s organ donation ultimately saved five lives - a heroic and gracious act Wytonia will carry with her for the rest of her life.

“Not only do I think about my son, I think about the other lives that have been saved,” she added.

Whenever an organ donation is made, a ‘Donate Life’ flag is hoisted to honor the donor and their family. Recently, in recognition of National Donate Life Month, the same flag was raised at Willis Knighton North by the McBrides.

“I just looked up and I could just see Joshua smiling down saying, ‘mom, you guys did an awesome job,” Wytonia said. “It’s an honor to see that flag being raised simply because there have been so many to donate lives.”

To register to become an organ donor in Louisiana, click here.

To register to become an organ donor in Texas, click here.

To register to become and organ donor in Arkansas, click here.

Great Health Divide is an initiative addressing health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

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