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July 17, 2017 06:21 PM

Increasing Awareness About Organ Donation

Sioux Falls, SD

It's as easy as a simple "Yes" at the DMV.  Then at the bottom of your license, written in red, the word "Donor" will appear confirming that you are an organ donor.  Currently, there are 300 people waiting for an organ in the state of South Dakota.
37-year old Matthew Coplan hates needles. In fact, he says he passes out anytime he has to get an IV. 

"I don't like the details of the surgery. I told the surgeon, 'I know what you are doing.  Just don't tell me the details; let's just do it,'" donor Matthew Coplan said. 

Despite loathing needles, Coplan said there wasn't a doubt in his mind that he would donate his kidney if he was a match to his younger sister, 33-year old Leah.

Leah had several kidney infections as a child, so there was a chance she would have kidney failure later on in life. After she suffered a brain injury, Coplan says it caused the kidney failure to occur earlier than expected.

"She had kidney failure, so I went through the testing and all of that stuff and finds out I was a match, so I donated my kidney to my sister," Coplan said.

Coplan says the procedure was simple. In total it took him a few months to fully recover. He says he would do it again, if he had an extra kidney, of course.

 "I am happy I did it and I would do it again, as long as I am not giving up the remaining one that I have," Coplan said.

Sanford Program Director of Transplant & Nephrology Dr. Larry Burris says there are 300 people in South Dakota on the waiting list and thousands of people all across the United States. He says kidney failure or renal failure requires a person to get dialysis about three days a week and it can be a miserable process. He also says the mortality rate for someone already on dialysis is high.

"People on dialysis look like they are doing okay but their quality of life is very, very poor. To give them that back truly does give them life back," Burris said.

Burris says a common misconception about donation is the cost. The donor will not have any medical expenses because the recipient's insurance covers the cost. 

"There is also the concern that if I give one kidney away there, am I going to have kidney failure in the future? We would say typically people that donate kidneys have no increased risk of donating renal failure," Burris said.

Burris says a common myth he hears when it comes to deceased donors is that they won't be taken care of as well as living donors or that more organs are taken than what's needed. He says there are special considerations taken when it comes to deceased donors, only the needed organ is taken and it does not cost the family nor will it cause any complications with their burial.


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