By Mike McClure

According to Jason Gangewere, Hospital Services Coordinator for the Gift of Life Donor Program, there are 107,000 people waiting for transplants with 120 people dying each day waiting for organ donations. Last Thursday, TidalHealth Nanticoke held its annual flag raising event in support of the program and Donate Life Month.

Those in attendance at the TidalHealth Nanticoke donor flag raising ceremony are shown with a Donate Life Month banner, in front of the raised flag. Photo by Mike McClure

TidalHealth Nanticoke President Penny Short said the event is held to express gratitude to donors and donor families and bring awareness to the importance of organ and tissue donation. The flag raising is held each April (Donate Life Month) in honor of the month as well as donors and their families.

The hospital recently lost Dr. Khalid Manzoor, a hospitalist, and Marc McDonald, lead physical therapist at the Mears Campus.

“Both of these remarkable men chose to be organ donors. Caregivers in life who gave the gift of life to others when theirs ended…and far too soon,” Short said.

According to Short donated lungs from the men saved a person in their 50’s and a person in their 60’s; kidneys saved the life of two people in their 60’s; a liver saved a person in their 30’s; and corneal donations are improving the sight of others.

Short added that TidalHealth Nanticoke has received five tissue donations this year. Last year, four donated organs resulted in eight life-saving transplants. Since the first of the year, three tissue donations have been secured which can enhance the lives of up to 225 people.

Joanne Brusich, a liver recipient from Bethany Beach, told her story. She received an organ from the family of a teenage boy who died of a head injury.

“It’s because of them that I’m here to speak to you,” she said.

Brusich was diagnosed with hepatitis after receiving a blood transfusion in 1980. A transplant became her only chance for survival after a tumor was found in her liver. She was on the waiting list for 13 months before receiving a liver. As a result of the transplant, she has had the opportunity to spend time with her family, watch children succeed in life, and meet people. She does educational classes in Delaware high schools about organ donation and enjoys playing pickle ball.

“Today, as we raise this flag, I ask that each time you see it, you be reminded of the incredibly selfless individuals, like Khalid Manzoor and Marc McDonald, who have given of themselves to assure life continues for others. It is important that all of us educate our friends on the benefit, need, and how easy it is to become a donor,” said Short.

Short was joined by Miho Iwata, Dr. Manzoor’s life partner; Brusich; and Gangewere for the raising of the flag.