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A brother's generosity saves his sister's life

READ MORE: A brother's generosity saves his sister's life
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Last year in the US, organ donation saved or enhanced nearly 28,000 lives. One Wilmington woman said there is nothing she is more thankful for this holiday season. "In 1993, I got really sick, I felt like I had the flu, and my body was achy. I had a fever and went to the doctor, and he told me I had lost two thirds of my kidney function and that eventually I would need a transplant," described organ recipient Maddie Pimentel. Lucky for Maddie, her brother Robb was a perfect match. "It was very scary to think I'm going to need an organ transplant. I didn't know anyone who had ever had any kind of transplant. This was back in 1994, so it was something that really was foreign to me and kind of scary," said Maddie. In 2007, she had the operation. She said, "My brother went in first, his transplant team went ahead and performed his surgery, and they pulled out a beautiful, pink healthy kidney, very strong. Once everything was cleared with that, they went ahead and took me back and performed my surgery, and that evening we were both up and talking. I think he was a little more sore than I was." Living with a piece of her younger brother has lead to some interesting life changes. “I think it's made me like some of the things he likes. I never liked chicken wings, I never liked chocolate chip cookies, that was something that he loved," Maddie explained. While Maddie was lucky enough to find a match in her own family, not everyone is. That is why having an organ donor heart on your driver's license like Maddie is so important. "There are eight organs we can use for donation. The kidneys we count as two, the lungs we count as two, the heart, the liver, the pancreas, and the small intestines. Then you can save an additional 50 people with the donation of tissue such as bone, or cornea or skin and that sort of thing," said Dwain Cooper of the Carolina Donor Services. Right now, more than 100,000 Americans are waiting for an organ transplant. Three thousand of them live in North Carolina. You can sign up to be an organ donor at the DMV when you get your driver's license or at www.donatelifenc.org.

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Organ Donation

Maddie Pimentel was very lucky to get a Kidney transplant. Over half of the 100,000 Americans on the national waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year. There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't prepared to share the gift of life should go to the back of the transplant waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs. Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 13,000 members, including 394 members in North Carolina. Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your viewers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is daveundis@lifesharers.org. My phone number is 615-351-8622.