Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency
Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer recently met with an organ transplant recipient and a donor family.
Hyer, who is an advocate for organ, eye, and tissue donation, visited the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA) to meet with David and Shelia Wilbanks, the parents of Walker Wilbanks, a Jackson Prep student who became a donor in 2014, and tissue recipient Eryn Whitaker.
The meeting took place at MORA’s newly opened “Garden of Hope” to hear their donation and transplantation stories as she continues to raise awareness of the importance of donation across Mississippi. For Hyer, donation became personal in 2010.
“I chose organ and tissue donation as my platform because of my family’s experience with it,” said Hyer. My grandmother received a kidney transplant from my mother and so that just kind of lit a fire in my soul once I realized how few organs are available for transplant.”
The Wilbanks family says having a Miss Mississippi promote donation is important to remember those that have given as donors.
“It means a lot and really puts a spotlight back on our son and what he did for others,” said David Wilbanks.
Currently, over 1,300 Mississippians are part of the over 113,000 Americans in need of a lifesaving transplant. A new person is added to the national waiting list every 10 minutes and 20 people die every day awaiting a transplant that never comes.