Wichita family raises awareness for organ donation

(Photo courtesy KSN News)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – There are thousands right now here in the Midwest awaiting organ donations, including many who need a transplant now or they could lose their lives.

Some people are trying to help and this weekend Wichita held an organ donor awareness rally. The rally was hosted by community leaders and some said they have a new appreciation for what it means to be an organ donor.

The Gilkey family said there is no pain like losing a child but they have since found comfort in knowing their son, Ryan, did not die in vain.

“I received a letter that I’ve been waiting for — and it’s the letter from my son’s heart recipient,” said Lynn Gilkey.

The Gilkey family has received over five letters from families that have been saved due to their son being an organ donor. The experience inpired the family to educate the community on the importance of becoming a donor.

“Right now we have 500 people that are waiting organ transplant in the state of Kansas and then we also serve Missouri and there are 2,000 people that need organ transplants in the state of Missouri,” explained Angie Carr, Midwest Transplant Network.

Community members showed up with their children to learn more about becoming a donor, but one guest said she was there to say thank you.

“At this point I would have been actually on dialysis — six years today — or not here today – — just thinking about it brings me to tears,” said organ recipient Natasha Vernor.

Vernor admitted that there was some guilt in the organ donor process.

“I was so bothered that I had to live because somebody had to die,” said Vernor.

Those feelings were quickly comforted at an event meant to educate and inspire.

“It takes a village to support our families and to keep our community strong,” added Pastor Cynthia Wolford.

For more information on how to register to become an organ donor, click here.

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