Our team arrived in Los Angeles where we were met by our Patient Ambassadors Eric Barton and Harold Mintz. We were graciously invited to meet with the amazing team at One Legacy, which is the biggest Organ Procurement Organization in the United States. Sitting down with their team, we learned of their programs and the operations. They run such an incredible program to ensure that people throughout the greater Los Angeles County can receive organ transplants. We were given a tour of their Eye Bank and where they process corneas to prepare them for transplant.
One Legacy host’s some amazing events throughout the year and visit schools to educate the public about the importance of saying “yes” to organ donation and checking that box. Two of their big events are the Donate Life Run/Walk – a 1K, 5K, and 10K- run/walk that they do on April 28th. This is one of the biggest organ donation walks in the nation. One Legacy also coordinates the Donate Life Rose Parade float that is put together by hundreds of volunteers who strive to help raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. This year will be the 15th year of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. “The Gift of Time is truly the greatest fight any of us can bequeath to a waiting recipient, showcasing the power that each of us has to help one another.” – One Legacy
From One Legacy we went on a tour of Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center,where we got to sit down with Dr. Gabiel M. Danovitch who is the Medical Director of the Kidney Transplant Program. Harold and Eric were able to ask him questions about the program. Dr. Gabiel M. Danovicth is originally from Britain and during his time in the medical field, he chose to focus on kidney transplantation when he was faced with the death of a young 30-year-old woman who passed because there was no kidney available to save her life. This shaped his passion to help save peoples lives and give them a second chance.
After meeting with Dr. Danovicth, we were given a tour of the Kidney Transplant floor of Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center and met with a few patients. Harold Mintz, one of our Patient Ambassadors, had decided to donate a kidney to a total stranger in 2000. We had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who decided to do just what Harold had done. It was a very special moment for us to meet him. He was full of optimism and selflessness. He decided to give a kidney to someone he did not know. His outlook on life was beautiful. He felt that he had this gift to help someone he needed to utilize it. We talked and shared stories, cried and laughed together. This was truly an emotional and immensely inspiring interaction between two men who selflessly donated a kidney to save a strangers life.
The most consequential event followed. The gentleman who received the donor’s kidney was just a few floors below us! A huge surprise to us – we were able to meet him as well. He needed a kidney for about six years and was reaching out to family and friends to see if anyone was a match. One of his friends stepped forward to undergo the testing and was not a match for him. However, he had a rare blood type and after all of the testing decided to donate his kidney to help save another stranger’s life. Awe-inspiring right??? The donor and the recipient both had the desire to meet one another and were able to, just a few hours before we arrived. The donor and recipient both had a glow of hope and life beaming from them. Such a beautiful sight to see. The donor was beaming because they were able to help save the life of someone else and the recipient was beaming because they were given a second chance at life because of the selfless decision of a complete stranger. We predict they will be beaming for a long time.
As a friend of the recipient stated the day fully encompassed, “Beauty and bravery beyond words.”