Need for organ donations on the rise

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM (WBRC) - Tammy Campbell, 44, works at her father's recreational vehicle store today, but about 12 years ago while she suffered from a hardened lung, she could barely breathe.

"It was very difficult to breathe. I couldn't walk from one part of my house to another. It's not that large of a house without severe coughing spells. I have to sit down and rest," Campbell said.

But 12 years ago, she received a double lung transplant as well as a second chance at life.

"It made a tremendous difference. I can do anything I want to do now. I play really hard and am able to live life to the fullest. It's been an extreme change."

There are more organ donors available this year since the last two; however it is not meeting the demand for transplants.

Dem Lalisan, the director at the Alabama Organ Center says the waiting list continues to grow.

"Our dilemma right now with our organ donations in Alabama is our waiting list. It's 3,500 and growing."
 
There are about 450 organ transplant operations each year in Alabama, and these donations come from about 130 donors who can offer up to three or four organs. Still, there are fewer donors available in part due to increased safety procedures, such as buckling up seatbelts, or police crackdown on drinking and driving.

Lalisan is urging more people to become organ donors, and especially to talk to their families.

"Because at the time of death at 3 a.m. in a hospital ICU is not the opportune time to discuss this for the first time," he said.

Tammy Campbell says her double lung transplant 12 years ago totally changed her life and encourages others to become donors.

"They can save eight or nine lives. It made a world of difference in my life."

Lilisan says people can indicate if they want to be donors on their driver's license or sign up at www.alabamaorgancenter.org.

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