Health Plus: Organ Donation, Part One - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Organ Donation, Part One

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EVANSDALE (KWWL) -- More than 500 Iowans are currently waiting for an organ.

When your name comes up, it hopefully means a life-saving transplant.

Here's Health Plus with the story of a man happy to be off that list.

Sixteen years ago Buddy Beenken's emphysema got so bad, he had to quit working at an auto salvage yard.

The Evansdale man eventually needed a lung transplant and the waiting was, well, killing him.

 "18 people die in our country every day waiting for an organ and we know what the fix is. We know it's an easy answer. We just need to get people to say yes and donate to save lives," said Paul Sodders with the Iowa Donor Network.

The first transplant attempt at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City didn't work for the now 64-year-old.

But his second double lung transplant in March 2008 was so successful, he's healthy enough to use heavy machinery.

 "It's like a difference of night and day. Now I can do anything I want. Who knows, God only knows if I'd been here yet," said Buddy.

The Iowa Donor Network is behind happy endings like Buddy's.

Hospitals like Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo notify the agency when a potential donor is hospitalized.

"We really rely on the hospitals to start that process for us. Once we have a potential donor, we register them with the federal list and then the federal list will match all the recipients with a potential organ donor and then the phone calls start and the clock starts ticking and we kind of have a race against time to make sure we can place all the organs for transplant that we can," said Paul.

"There's so many lives that can be saved. Their family can live on through somebody else. And not just one person, but they can live on through several people," said Buddy.

One-third of all Iowans are already on the donor registry list.

Waterloo's Covenant Medical Center is one of only nine statewide where 3 out of 4 potential donors come through.

Tara Thomas:  Online reporter/Anchor 

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