LIMA — Organ donation is a vitally important issue to Amber Payne: An organ donor saved her life.
The 27-year-old Wapakoneta native was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a young age. She needed a double-lung transplant in 2005 when she was 19. On Tuesday morning, she spoke to a gym full of Delphos Jefferson High School students about her experience.
“I had the world in front of me,” she said. “But God had other plans.”
She found a match after she was on the transplant waiting list for six months.
Payne said she was luckily for that: About six months earlier, doctors told her she had between six and 12 months to live. She’s also written “Breathtaking,” a book about her transplant experience.
Jackie Hines, an organ procurement coordinator with Lifeline of Ohio, said she hopes Payne’s story motivates students to consider becoming organ donors.
“One person can save the lives of eight people (through transplant) and improve the lives of 50 others (through tissue donation),” Hines said.
Hines dispelled several myths related to becoming an organ donor.
“A lot of people are uncomfortable saying yes to organ donation because there’s a lot of myths, or myths-truths that are out there,” Hines said. It’s not true that “you won’t get the same health care at the hospital if the doctors know you want to be a donor. In reality… no one at the hospital is directly involved with the coordination of a donation. No one at the hospital benefits by you being a donor.”
John Edinger, principal at Delphos Jefferson High School, said learning about organ donation is important for students.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done this,” Edinger said. “It’s difficult to talk about, but it’s an important talk.”
Edinger said he hopes to have a similar assembly at the school every year. He said the timing is good, as many students are getting their driver’s licenses. Ohioans can have their preference for being an organ donor printed on their license.
Nationwide, more than 117,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Eighteen of those people die waiting each day. The speakers also pushing the cause because of National Organ Donation Month.
Hines also urged students to talk with their loved ones about donor preferences. She said it’s a difficult decision to make if you don’t know what a deceased relative wanted.
“No one knows what the future brings, so this is a way for preparing for the unknown,” she said.