Kentucky Organ Donation
Norton Healthcare partners with KODA to raise awareness of organ donation among employees
More than 740 Kentuckians are currently waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Some of these patients will die before a donor organ becomes available. Others are waiting for cornea and tissue transplants to enhance their lives. There is good news, however, one person's decision to become an organ and tissue donor can impact up to 50 people in need.
While organ donations as well as awareness have steadily increased, so too has the need for donated organs and tissue. In recognition of the need, and in keeping with our values, Norton Healthcare is partnering with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) to raise awareness of organ donation among employees. KODA will staff booths in several Norton Healthcare facilities throughout the month of Feburary. Employees are welcome to stop by to ask questions about KODA and organ donation and to learn how to save a life by signing up on the state's online donor registry.
Larry Ward and Ben Meibers are two KODA volunteers who underwent lifesaving donor heart transplant surgery at Norton Audubon Hospital. Read their stories and learn more about organ donation and the online donor registry.
In June 1987, Larry Ward was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that leaves the heart too weak to pump efficiently to adequately fill the chambers of the heart. With less than 24 hours to live, the 36-year-old Ward underwent transplant surgery at Norton Audubon Hospital and received a new heart from an organ donor.
Now, nearly 20 years later, Ward, 55, is healthy and active with only a few leg problems. Those limitations, however, have not kept him from doing what he loves: playing golf with his wife, playing with his four grandchildren, competing as an athlete in the U.S. Transplant Games and, of course, volunteering with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA).
For obvious reasons, Ward believes strongly in KODA's mission and in the importance of organ donation. Among other things, he credits organ donation with allowing him to "grow up" along with his children who were between ages 5 and 13 at the time of his surgery.
While Ward's story is inspirational, he is quick to shift the focus. "The real heroes are organ donors and the donors' families. Organ donation is truly the greatest gift of all."
With a history of heart attacks and bypass surgery, it was no surprise when Ben Meibers was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a serious heart condition that could eventually be fatal. On Nov.1, 1986, Meibers, underwent donor heart transplant surgery at Norton Audubon Hospital.
Meibers now works part-time for KODA, visiting local high schools to correct misconceptions and answer students' questions about organ donation. In addition to his community outreach, Meibers participates in the U.S. Transplant Games. The games, which occur every two years, are exclusively for individuals who have received organ transplants. As a participant, Meibers has visited Utah, Ohio and Florida. In 2006, the Games were held in Louisville, and Meibers, who competes in both bowling and golf, received a medal for the first time. With his heart still going strong, Meibers is looking forward to competing in the 2008 Games in Pittsburgh.