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A Link Between Life and Death: Organ donors and transplant recipients

Posted at 8:35 AM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 07:39:49-04

BALTIMORE — Maryland is making medical breakthroughs when it comes to organ transplants.

While having the world's first organ transplant delivered by a drone in Baltimore, the work of doctor's can't be done without donors.

Most of the population in states like Montana, Alaska and Washington state are registered as organ donors.

However, only about half of the number of people living in Maryland are registered.

RELATED: Baltimore woman receives world's first organ transplant delivered via drone

The choice to become an organ donor may not only save a life, it also can make things easier on family members who've lost a loved one. Choosing to become an organ donor prevents the family from being put in the position of having to make that decision, during what is already a difficult time.

Army veteran Daronta Briggs experienced a lot in life. The last place he expected to find himself was on a wait list for an organ transplant.

“I had a healthy lifestyle, after serving in desert storm and desert shield. I got out the military in 1992 after serving 8 years, so then I went to work for the department of corrections in the State of Virginia, out of my whole 18 years of working there, I thought I was healthy,” said Briggs.

A doctor's visit revealed Briggs either needed a new kidney or suffer with the rigors of dialysis.

Briggs wondered, where would his kidney come from for his transplant.

Connecting the link between organ donor and organ recipient is usually taken care of by the Living Legacy Foundation.

Living Legacy Foundation, President and CEO Charlie Alexander said, “When you’ve checked yes on your driver’s license then knowing that decision makes things much easier for the family, when you haven’t checked yes, but you’ve had that conversation with your family in the past, it also makes it easier.”

Otherwise family members are left to wonder what a loved one would have wanted.

“We interact with families on arguably on the worst day of their lives, we have masters prepared or better, mental health professionals there for the families, and if they say yes, that’s fantastic, we’re going to save lives, if they say no, they get the same level of care working through the death and dying process of their family member ,” said Alexander.

With one life lost and another on the line, it’s a difficult conversation which unfortunately can’t wait for a better time.

“There is no preparation, there’s no way to plan for this conversation, so the planning for this conversation so the planning for this conversation is checking yes at the MVA, or talking to your family about your wishes, yes or no and I guess all we ever ask is that you make those decisions based on the facts,” said Alexander.

Its why Alexander wants people to know anyone thinking about becoming an organ donor who hasn't already selected the option on their driver's license, doesn't have to wait until it expires to register.

"The registry is an incredibly powerful tool for us, you can go to DonateLifeMaryland.org and you can create your own record today and it lets your family know exactly what your wishes would be," Alexander said.

The selfless act of giving life to others, in death, is something Briggs is forever grateful.

Briggs is so grateful for his new lease on life that he's become a volunteer with the Living Legacy Foundation.