Tater Johnson wouldn’t be alive today without organ donation

'Don’t Wait, Save 8′ campaign kicks off today encouraging online donations

Although the global pandemic has upended life for everyone, what hasn’t changed is the ongoing need for organ donations.

Each organ donor can potentially save up to eight lives, said Stephanie Burianek, the community outreach coordinator for Life Connection of Ohio in Dayton.

This week, Burianek’s organization and others like it in Ohio are for the first time encouraging residents to register as organ donors online, offering others the use of their organs after death.

Huber Heights resident Narqueisha Johnson and her family knows firsthand the value of this effort. Johnson’s son Tater received a multi-visceral transplant. He received liver, small intestine and a pancreas in a life-saving donation. He and his family’s story is part of the “Don’t Wait, Save 8″ donor registration event.

Tater will celebrate his 16th birthday on Oct. 28, Johnson said. And he is doing “awesome."

“His life has been a thousand times better since the transplant,” Johnson said.

Johnson doesn’t have a lot of background information on the donor whose organs helped save her son’s life. But she says the donor was a child around what was then Tater’s age, when he or she passed away about a decade ago.

Added Johnson: “He wouldn’t be alive (without that donation). There was nothing else they could do. This was our only chance at (Tater) having a second chance at life.”

Quite often in Ohio, drivers register to serve as organ donors at their local Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) when they buy license tags or renew licenses.

Burianek said those involved don’t have BMV data to see how COVID-19-related Ohio BMV closures impacted registration numbers this year.

“It probably was impacted,” she said. “We just don’t know the significance of that.”

“But in this virtual world we’re living in, we thought there was no better time to coordinate Ohio’s first-ever virtual organ, eye and tissue donor registration drive to increase awareness and registrations for organ, eye and tissue donation," she said.

The campaign kickoff is today or 10/8/20. That date is no accident; it’s tied to a trio of key figures the campaign hopes to highlight.

  • 10 – Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant.
  • 8 – One organ donor can save up to eight lives.
  • 20 – Twenty people each day die in the U.S. due to lack of an available lifesaving organ.

In the United States, about 110,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. More than 3,000 of those people are Ohioans.

This will be the first time this kind of donor registration event has been organized in Ohio.

There are four “OPOs” in Ohio — organ procurement organizations — behind the online drive, all united under the “Donate Life Ohio” umbrella coalition. Life Connection of Ohio, based at 40 Wyoming St., Dayton, is one of them.

The online campaign can be viewed on Facebook, at the “Don’t Wait, Save 8” registration drive page. The event kicks off at 10 a.m and can be viewed until 8:30 p.m.

How to donate

To sign up to donate you organs, visit http://www.donatelifeohio.org

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