National Donate Life Month has local impact

Over 119,000 men, women and children await life-saving organ transplants nationally and in the community of Langdon there is one such individual.

Posted 4/07/2017

By Melissa Anderson

Jolene Everson was diagnosed with chronic renal failure or as it is more commonly known chronic kidney disease in January of 2016, and her life has taken a drastic turn since then.

“The main cause was undetected high blood pressure,” Everson shared, “I know that when I met with my cardiologists that looking over the tests there had been improvement so it could have been a heart infection that caused the kidney failure.”

Many patients with chronic kidney disease, especially if they reach Stage 4 or Stage 5, will progress to the point of end stage renal disease (ESRD) which is the point of needing dialysis or renal transplant. Everson has started dialysis and travels to Grand Forks twice a week to receive the necessary treatment.  Much work is being done to try to help halt or slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.

“It takes away your freedom cause you have to make sure you have dialysis lined up,” Everson said.

Every 10 minutes another person is added to the national transplant waiting list. 22 people die each day waiting for an organ with 8,000 deaths occurring every year in the U.S. because organs are not donated in time. A whopping 82 percent of patients waiting for an organ transplant are in need of a kidney, just like Everson.

Donating your internal organs can save up to eight lives; your corneas can restore sight to two people and donating tissues can help heal up to 75 people.

In 2016 alone, 33,600 transplants brought new life to patients and their families. Since 1988, 683,000 transplants have taken place in the United States.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) operates the national database of all patients in the U.S. waiting for a transplant. OPTNs is responsible for matching donor organs to potential recipients through their database.

The network has policies that regulate how donor organs are matched and allocated to patients on the waiting list. There are some common factors in how organs are matched, such as blood type and how long the patient has been waiting. However, depending on the organ, some factors become more important, so there is a different policy for each organ.

When matching organs from deceased donors to patients on the waiting list, many of the factors taken into consideration are the same for all organs. These usually include:

•Blood type

•Body size

•Severity of patient’s medical condition

•Distance between the donor’s hospital and the patient’s hospital

•The patient’s waiting time

• Whether the patient is available. Sometimes potential patients are unable to be eligible due to being unavailable or currently have an infection or some other reason for the transplant to not take place.

Depending on the organ, however, some factors become more important. For example, some organs can survive outside the body longer than others. A heart or lungs can only survive for four to six hours outside of the human body while a kidney can last up to 48 hours. The distance between the donor’s hospital and the potential recipient’s hospital must be taken into consideration.

For Everson, the hope is that a live donor can be found as that will provide her with the best chance of recovery.

“As far as donors, they told me that it’s better to receive a live donor rather than from a deceased,” Everson said.

The past year has been tough for Everson, her family, and friends. Everson was forced to resign from her position at Cavalier County Memorial Hospital after over 30 years of working there in the insurance department due to her condition.

“I’m not working anymore, and it’s been hard on my family as well,” Everson shared.

She has received vast amounts of support from her friends, family, and the community at large over the year. The Figure Skating Club donated one of their 50/50 raffles from their spring show to Everson.

“Friends and family have been wonderful, and the community has been great” Everson stated.

Everson’s advice to everyone, following this life changing diagnosis, is to make sure you visit your doctor regularly to receive checkups.

“This can be prevented,” Everson said.

There will be baked potato bar benefit supper on April 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at American Legion to help support Jolene Everson and her family during this difficult time. During the supper there will be a special  educational presentation on organ donation starting at 6 p.m. as well as a silent auction.