By STACY SMITH SEGOVIA
Mary Jo Jones wouldn't be alive today except for the selflessness of an organ donor. Afflicted by a lifetime of illness from cystic fibrosis, Mary Jo got the chance at a new, healthier life on July 18, 1993, when she got a double lung transplant.
Mary Jo said on the 15th anniversary of the day she got new lungs, she was thinking of the person whose death gave her new life.
Mary Jo has written long letters to the family three times, but received no response. She said she understands it may be too difficult for them to communicate with her, but she appreciates them nonetheless. "I think of all the other transplant friends I've had who didn't live to see a day like this — some who died before the transplant."
Janet Jarrard, senior public education coordinator for Tennessee Donor Services, said too many die before donor lungs are available. She said 2,103 Tennesseans are on a transplant waiting list, and of those, 20 are waiting for lungs.
"Tennessee statistics regarding lung donation and transplants are especially significant," Jarrard said. "Because a lung must be transplanted within 4 hours after removal from the donor's body, it will go to someone within a close geographical area."
That means it's likely the 20 Tennesseans waiting for new lungs will receive them from others who live in the state or nearby.
"Being a donor creates a miraculous ripple effect. Fifteen years later, Mary Jo's donor is continuing to bless her, and her family and friends," Jarrard said. "And who knows, this story about the donor's gift to Mary Jo may influence others to make that decision, and therefore save even more lives."
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