By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
National Donor Day is observed each year on February 14 to recognizes the many selfless people who have helped to save so many lives through the gift of organ donation. Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, LifeShare wants to remind Oklahomans to “Share the Love” and register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, because one donor can save up to eight lives.
LifeShare, a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO), works closely with five transplant centers, including OU Medical Center, Integris Baptist Medical Center, Saint Francis Hospital and St. John’s Medical Center, as well as 145 Oklahoma healthcare organizations working to facilitate donations.
One such donor hero was twenty-year-old Triston Paris of Caddo, Oklahoma. Described as compassionate, dependable and caring, it is said that his smile could brighten up any room.
Triston enjoyed fishing, cooking, the outdoors and the Oklahoma City Thunder, which he watched regularly on television with his grandparents.
In high school Triston was on the Caddo Bruins State Championship Football Team in 2011 donning number 45.
After graduating high school, a member of the Vice President’s Honor Roll, Triston began pursuing an Occupational Safety and Health Degree.
Tragically, injuries received during an automobile accident in May 2016 took Triston’s life. It was no surprise to those who knew him, that his final act of kindness and compassion would be to become an organ and tissue donor.
Triston was able to save three lives by donating his kidneys and liver. He also donated tissue which could augment up to 75 lives.
At the time of his family’s greatest despair, Triston’s donation helped them and others to realize that being an organ donor is giving the gift of life.
Because of Triston’s generosity, the Team Triston Foundation was created in his name.
“February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day it is also National Donor Day,” said Katy Smith, Director of Marketing and Communications for LifeShare of Oklahoma. “It is a day to recognize those who have given the gift of life through donation and a day to raise awareness about the need for organ, eye and tissue donors.
“We encourage Oklahomans to discuss the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation with your families,” Smith added. “Sharing your decision is one of the most important conversations you can have with your loved ones.”
In 2016, 180 Oklahoma organ donors saved 443 lives. Today, there are still approximately 800 Oklahomans currently waiting on a lifesaving transplant
“We are proud of the work LifeShare has done to help save lives,” said Jeffrey Orlowski, LifeShare President and Chief Executive Officer. “For the third consecutive year, we have set organizational records across the board, which is a result of the focus and commitment from the entire LifeShare team including staff, leadership, volunteers and the efforts of the Oklahoma medical community.”
Last year, LifeShare also recovered tissue from 725 donors, which may benefit more than 36,000 people through bone donations to improve mobility, skin donations to heal burn patients, cornea donations to restore sight and heart valve donations to repair life-threatening defects.
“Most importantly, we are thankful for the incredible support and generosity of Oklahomans, without which our lifesaving work would not be possible,” Orlowski added. “We encourage all Oklahomans to continue registering to be organ, eye and tissue donors so more lives can be saved.”
There are three ways to join the LifeShare Donor Registry:
Driver’s License or State ID Card – Upon obtaining a driver’s license or state ID card, you will have an opportunity to say yes to organ, eye and tissue donation. You will also have an opportunity to donate a dollar to the Oklahoma Donor Education Fund, which provides statewide education programs to make Oklahomans aware of the importance of organ and tissue donation.
Online – Go online anytime and register in just minutes at www.LifeShareRegistry.org. This gives you the ability to access your registry page and change your donation information.
Phone – Call 800-826-LIFE (5433) and request a donor registration form be sent to you. After you fill out the form and return it, your name and donation wishes will be added to the LifeShare Donor Registry.
For more information, visit www.lifeshareok.org.