Every year nearly 1,500 Mississippians are on a waiting list for an organ transplant. But As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, myths can stand in the way of saving lives.
When Rachel Payne was 27, her doctor told her to make her final arrangements. The single mother from Van Cleave, suffered from kidney disease. Payne says she was given an anthrax vaccine in the military that attacked her kidneys. Then, a Texas lawyer died.
"That man being an organ donor and his family respecting his wishes to do so, they saved my life. They saved my son's life and I cry every time. So, I am very, very thankful," said Payne.
Payne is 42-years old now and married. Kevin Stump is with Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency, an organization that facilitates organ and tissue donations. He says about 70 Mississippians donate organs annually. The biggest need is for kidneys. Stump says dispelling myths about organ donations is a challenge.
"That's one of our biggest myths is well they were born with everything so they need to go to heaven with everything. And the other thing is, we're not going to try to not save your life to be an organ donor," said Stump.
"You know it's a game changer," said Lewis.
Fifty-one year old Timothy Lewis, a married father of four, received a heart transplant 30 months ago. He suffered from congestive heart failure.
"I just left Cleveland, Ohio to participate in Transplant Games of America.This is where 6,000 transplant recipients from across the United States, gather together and we compete in an Olympic style game," said Lewis.
The Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency is working to educate more people about organ donations. They held an awards luncheon to thank the medical community and donor families for their support. Visit www.msora.org.