Local organ donors and recipients are celebrating the lives -- and friendships -- they’ve created through the event of giving or receiving an organ donation. Kidney recipient Michael Demaintenon joined his donor Jessica Green at Upstate University hospital today. Demaintenon says he didn’t initially want to go public about his failing kidneys. Then the function of his kidneys declined this past January, and he created a Facebook page in search of help.
“So I guess I went viral. Then a couple days after that page went up, Jessica contacted me and was like, hey, I think I want to come forward and donate. That brought a huge sense of hope and relief.
“I would encourage anyone that’s even on the fence to just make that phone call, even if you don’t know someone. For me it got personal so quickly. The Demaintenon family is so dear to me. I’d give more than a kidney if I could,” said Green. “I would leave by challenging you with this thought: that there may be someone out there that needs an organ that is your closest friend and you’ve just never met them yet. Making that call and entering the process may be the start of something beautiful in your life. I know it was for me."
Green says she’s surprised by being called a hero or amazing for donating … and saving a life. 52-year old Chris Jones had a heart transplant earlier this year. He’s grateful for the gifts that came along with the donation, such as family, friends, and prayer.
“I was fortunate and blessed beyond measure to receive this heart and everyone who looks at me and says it’s a miracle, I couldn’t agree with you more. My plans for the future are to have one, which is a reality that I never truly considered until as of late. I’ll be 52 in another week and I plan to return to work and plan to return to a normal life.”
They shared their stories – of donating and of receiving organs – in order to encourage more people to donate. People can go to Donate Life if interested in organ donation. More than 9,000 people in New York State are currently waiting for an organ or tissue transplant, according to Upstate Medical University’s website. Other community partners, including Saint Joseph’s hospital, participated in today’s ceremony to raise awareness about the importance of the cause.