How My Father Lived To Be 100 Through Organ Donation

Monday, July 31, 2017

My father, Austin Golden, had dreams of living to be 100 years old. Sadly, those dreams were cut short when he fell and passed away suddenly at the age of 85. But I believe my father was able to live those extra 15 years, and perhaps more, by saving the life of another through organ donation. 

I remember speaking on the phone with my father the morning of April 15, 2015, as we did every morning. That was the last time we spoke. When I called the next morning, my father did not answer his phone. I knew something was terribly wrong. I arrived at his house to find him seriously injured. We rushed him to Erlanger Medical Center, where doctors told my family that my father could not be revived due to head trauma. Suddenly, all hope seemed lost for us. 

It all happened so fast, and we hadn’t even considered organ donation up to that point due to his age. But then a representative of Tennessee Donor Services informed us that thanks to advances in science and research, there are even more opportunities for donation and transplantation, particularly among elderly individuals. 

My family considered what my dad might say, and we all could hear his voice:  “Well, I’m not going to need my organs anymore, so why not give them to someone who does?’ We decided that donation was the right thing to do. 

Due to that decision, my father’s liver saved the life of another man. 

Age should not stand in the way of people registering to be an organ and tissue donor. It’s a widely believed myth that senior citizens cannot are too old to donate. That is far from the truth. So far, oldest donor in the United States was 92 years old. 

One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and one tissue donor can restore the lives of up to 50 or more people. Annually, 1 million people in the United States benefit from life-saving and life-healing tissue transplants. 

Yet the number of people in need of organ and tissue continues to outpace the number of donors. Every 10 minutes in the U.S., someone is added to the transplant waiting list. Nationally, more than 118,000 people are on the waiting list today. Sadly, 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant. Nearly 3,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Tennessee alone. 

There are two ways to register as an organ and tissue donor in Tennessee. You can go online at DonateLifeTN.org to register and specify which organs and tissues you would like to donate. You can also register at the Tennessee Department of Safety when applying for, renewing or updating a state driver’s license. After saying “yes” to donation at the Department of Safety, individuals can further specify their gift by going to DonateLifeTN.org. I often think of my father’s recipient and imagine the life he now can live thanks to my father’s gift. 

It makes me proud in the midst of all the grief, and I am grateful that age wasn’t a barrier in my father giving a second chance at life to another.

Lolita Jones


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