UI celebrates 'Donate Life' month


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For the last two years, Daylea Herring has been waiting. The 2½–year-old was born with a liver disease — biliary atresia — a condition in which bile becomes trapped in the liver, leading to scarring and a loss of tissue.

But because of a shortage of organ donors, Daylea has yet to receive a liver transplant, despite her doctor’s original prognosis that she wouldn’t live past 1 year of age without a replacement. Daylea and her mother attended an event in the University of Iowa IMU on Monday as part of National Donate Life month.

“It’s hard to ask someone to donate this gift of life, but at the same time, somebody donating is going to save my child’s life,” Amber Herring said. During the event, Bruce and Tiffini Brockway shared their story about the death of their 10-year-old son, Garrett, who donated his organs to five people in need after he died.

The Brockways lost Garrett in February 2013, when he was struck down by a tree in their yard. When told that he would not survive, the Burlington natives decided to donate his usable organs to people in need and non-transferable organs to research.

“Knowing that he was a hero and saved people and saved their families from going through what we’ve gone through has truly been rewarding for us,” Tiffini Brockway said. His organs saved five lives. His heart went to a 14-year-old boy, and his liver was donated to another boy the same age. His pancreas went to a 43-year-old woman, and a 28-year-old man received one kidney after suffering through dialysis for four years. His other kidney was a “perfect match” for a 65-year-old man.

Joel Newman, assistant director of communication at the United Network for Organ Sharing, said more than 100 million people nationally have signified to donate their organs but many have not made any commitment. Newman said it is important for people to clarify their preferences about organ donation so their family can confidently carry out their wishes.

“The difficulty is when that conversation hasn’t taken place and then the family is left to make that decision at a very traumatic time,” he said. Newman said events during April help clear up organ-donation myths, such as the fear of health-care providers not trying as hard to save the lives of organ donors.

“They worked so hard to save Garrett — they did everything they possibly could,” Bruce Brockway said. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, 122,071 people in the county are waiting for organ donations and 78,040 of those people are active waiting-list candidates, meaning they are medically ready for a transplant.

Like Garrett did as a 10-year-old, people of all ages can donate with the guardian’s consent if under 18.

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