Speakers explain lifesaving results of organ donations
during kickoff of month-long campaign
Jake Calton-Hughes was every mother’s son… gregarious and engaging. He loved to spend time with friends, lend a helping hand to neighbors and share hugs with his mom, Veronica. He was inquisitive by nature and loved to learn. Occasionally he’d read an encyclopedia entry and then summarize it for his mother.
And then came the tragic car crash on Oct. 4, 2006. As Jake clung to life, family members weighed a difficult decision… they elected to provide a lasting legacy by sharing Jake’s organs with others who needed transplants. Amidst immeasurable sorrow, Veronica explains, came a decision to save or improve the lives of others.
She later learned that Jake’s living legacy provided a kidney and pancreas for a diabetic woman in her 40s; with the transplants, diabetes disappeared.
“His adventure lives on,” Veronica said between tears Wednesday in front of the ITD Headquarters in Boise. “It is an awesome privilege to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Calton-Hughes joined ITD Director Pam Lowe, Alex McDonald from the Intermountain Donor Services organization in Salt Lake City and two other speakers for a brief organ/tissue donor awareness ceremony. Following formal presentations and a bagpipes rendition of “Irish Eyes are Smiling,” participants raised an organ/tissue donor flag on the ITD flagpole. It will remain on display throughout April.
ITD is a partner with the Intermountain Donor Services in promoting organ donations through a check-off on driver’s license forms. Idaho ranks among the top 10 states nationwide for organ donor participation by drivers, Lowe said.
Sixty percent of Idaho’s licensed drivers have registered to donate organs or tissue.
“What can be done?” she asked the crowd of about 50 people. “Say 'Yes' the next time you renew your driver’s license.”
Dolores Macias, of Boise, agreed to become an organ donor when she learned that a co-worker’s daughter needed a kidney. Through a series of ironic events, she was unable to donate to the young woman, but followed through with her selfless gift by agreeing to share a kidney with a stranger.
The process, initiated at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, included a complex six-donor, paired exchange.
Teri Snider of Visual Effects Salons in Boise and Garden City announced the kickoff of an organ transplant campaign and distributes donor registration forms at her salons.
McDonald presented awards to Lowe, on behalf of the department, and to the other three speakers for their part in perpetuating life.
More than 100,000 people nationwide are waiting for lifesaving transplants, McDonald explained. That includes 350 people in Idaho, he added.
Idahoans who wish to register as an organ or tissue donor can indicate their preference upon renewal of their driver’s license or obtaining a new license.