PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The coronavirus has canceled organ transplants nationwide, but UPMC said donations in western Pennsylvania haven’t been disrupted at all.
Waiting lists for deceased donors remain long and many “would-be” recipients never live to get one.
That’s why doctors tell KDKA that they want more people to know about living donors.
There are only a few qualifying organs for this type of procedure, and one of them is the liver.
“Roughly 95 percent come from a deceased donor and only five percent come from a living donor,” said Abhi Humar, chief of transplant at UPMC.
Dr. Humar said roughly 25 percent of people die while on the waiting list. If there’s a willing match, this option gives people a much faster shot at a second chance.
This strongly benefits people like 71-year-old Al Jaworski of Westmoreland County.
He and his wife, Cookie, are waiting for the gift of life.
“Every time the phone rings, my heart kind of jumps,” said Cookie.
Six years ago, Al was diagnosed with liver disease, unrelated to alcohol consumption. In December 2019, his liver started failing.
Doctors gave him six months to live. He is currently in month seven.
“Just gotta keep trying, that’s all, have faith in God, faith in my wife,” said Al.
Some days Al can barely talk, move or eat.
He goes twice a week to have fluid drained from his chest and abdomen, which are both side effects of the disease.
“For this, you need God every second,” said Cookie.
Dr. Humar said one small piece could help change someone’s world and “even as much as 50 or 60 percent, for example. Within a few weeks, that liver will grow back to full size in the person who gives and the person who receives the liver.”
Al and Cookie told KDKA their love for each other and God has been the only thing getting them through these challenging times. They are praying for a blessing.
“If I had the chance of a second chance at life, I’d be alright,” said Al.
Dr. Humar said there are COVID-19 safety precautions in place, including testing before surgery. Al’s blood type is O positive.
If you think you are a match, call Cookie at 724-396-8041 or message her on Facebook.
You can also click here to fill out UPMC’s living donor form.