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Kidney Transplant Story Raises Awareness About Organ Donation

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DURHAM — Groups that promote organ donation say the inspiring story ofJane Smith and Michael Carteris a good introduction into a discussion with families.

Walter O'Brien, 42, comes to the Duke Clinic every 18 months. He gets a physical to make sure he is still eligible to stay on the transplant list.

The father of four keeps his beeper close by. It has not gone off in the entire 4 1/2 years he has been hoping for a kidney.

"I try to stay hopeful, but it's the waiting and not knowing when they are going to call," said O'Brien. "It is just the agony of going day to day wondering."

In North Carolina, more than 1,400 people are waiting for a kidney. Last year, just over 300 got one.

Andrea Sears, who works with the Carolina Organ Procurement Agency or COPA, says more donors is the only solution.

"What each of us can do, by telling our families what we want to do, is give the 67,000 people waiting a full and productive life," Sears said.

O'Brien continues to wait for his perfect match. Michael Carter was lucky to find one in teacher, Jane Smith.

Most kidney donations come from the same ethnic background, and 85 percent of matches come from family members.

Veronica Bullock's Christmas came in July. After waiting four years, she received a new kidney and a second chance at life. Now, she does not slow down.

"I make myself tired because I do so much," Bullock said. "It's a lot easier to get around."

If you would like to become an organ donor, you can have a heart placed on your driver's license, fill out a donor card or most importantly, talk to your family. North Carolina requires family consent.

For more information, you can call COPA at1-800-200-COPA.


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