The Mississippi Department of Public Safety, the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA), Mid-South Transplant Foundation and the Mississippi Lions Eye Bank (MLEB) rallied at the State Capitol Tuesday to highlight the importance of eye, organ, and tissue donation.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 was designated as “Donate Life Day” with Senate Concurrent Resolution 634, sponsored by Senator Josh Harkins.
According to MORA, a new patient is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes and an average of 22 people die each day awaiting a lifesaving transplant that never comes.
For Brad Fitzgerald, that day did come after an eight month long wait.
“You sit there by the phone, scared to go anywhere that may not have service,” said Fitzgerald. “And eventually, you learn to know when the call isn’t coming that day.”
Fitzgerald, of McComb, said the day he got the call, there was severe weather across the state, and his wife and daughter were on the coast for a soccer game.
“So I called my friend, a deputy sheriff,” said Fitzgerald. “And I told him I had to get to Jackson. All he asked was ‘where are you,’ and I was here in plenty of time.”
Fitzgerald said that after eight months of waiting, and 14 years with a heart weakened by infection, he knew immediately after surgery that his life had been saved.
“I knew as soon as I woke up,” said Fitzgerald. “I felt a blood volume that I’d never felt before.”
The recipient said he knows very little of his donor, and hopes to one day meet his family.
“I only know his age,” Fitzgerald said. “And I’ve written a letter to his family.”
Whether or not Fitzgerald will ever meet the donor’s family is up to them. But if he does get the opportunity, he said his message is short and sweet.
“I love you,” he said through tears. “And your loved one has made more of a difference than I could ever tell you.”
Here is a full video of the press conference organ donation advocates held at the Capitol Tuesday: