A lifesaving lesson

Published 8:45 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It’s not every day that you get to pick up a newspaper and read a heartwarming story about someone saving another’s life. But Sunday’s edition of the Suffolk News-Herald provided just such a story, and also offered a lesson for the rest of us.

When Tracy Tillman found out in 2002 that her husband, Harry Tillman, would need a kidney transplant to stay alive, she didn’t hesitate to test herself. As it turned out, the couple was a near-perfect match.

As Harry Tillman told the Suffolk News-Herald: “I’m a firm believer in some destiny, and God puts people in places you don’t really expect them to be. It’s uncanny.”


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After undergoing a living donor kidney transplant, the Tillmans now share more than just a 25-year marriage: They share, in a manner of speaking, an organ.

But not all stories of failing organs end like the Tillmans. Some patients have rare blood types and never receive a donation. Some patients can’t find living donors, and must live years on painful and time-consuming dialysis waiting for a lifesaving organ that might never arrive.

Which is why the Tillmans have begun sharing their story with anyone who will listen. They hope their story will encourage everyone to become organ donors.

According to the Donate Life Virginia website, 113,000 patients in the United States are awaiting transplants, and 18 people die every day waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Many of these people could be saved if everyone was willing to sign up to be an organ donor.

According to nephrologist Harlan Rust, many are afraid to become organ donors because they are afraid that nothing will be done to save their lives.

“That’s unfortunate, because nothing could be further from the truth,” Rust said.

Signing up to be an organ donor is the easiest thing you can do to save another’s life. Just visit www.donatelifevirginia.org and click “Sign me up!”