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Giving Life

Craig Pleasant speaks to students at Ironton High School about organ donation. Pleasant is a kidney recipient.

Students learn about organ donation

The students at Ironton High School are a little more educated about organ donation. At least that was the goal of a presentation on the topic from a community educator from Lifeline of Ohio and a local kidney recipient.

The two spoke to students in Linda Gagai’s 10th grade biology classes.

Craig Pleasant, a member of the 1989 Ironton High School state championship football team, became the recipient of a kidney transplant in 2001 after he suffered kidney failure.

His brother, Ironton board of education member Robert Pleasant, was his living donor.

Prior to the transplant, Craig Pleasant said, he had to go to dialysis three days a week for up to four hours at a time.

“I can stay active because I have that organ,” Pleasant said. “It really does make a difference.”

An athlete before his illness, Pleasant said even after the transplant he lives a normal life.

“The doctor told my wife (she) could have easily found me dead, so I’m blessed to be here,” he said.

Sara Brown, community educator for Lifeline of Ohio, shared with the students her experience with organ donation. Brown’s father died suddenly, leaving her family to decide whether or not to donate his organs.

“We knew he was known for helping out so we said ‘yes’ to organ donation,” Brown said.

With a donation of his heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, five lives were saved, she explained.

There are 110,000 Americans waiting for transplants, she explained. Last year there were 28,000 transplants made.

“That means that not everyone gets the donation that they need,” Brown said.

Part of Brown’s discussion centered on the misconceptions about organ donations. There are no age limits for organ donors, she said.

“We tell people to never rule yourself out if it’s right for you,” she said.

Emergency room doctors don’t know whether you’ve signed up to be an organ donor and will not purposefully let you die to donate your organs, she said.

“They’re there to save your life at the hospital,” Brown said. “That’s what they’re there to do.”

The presentation was in recognition of Donate Life Month, which is commemorated in April.

Gagai has a representative from Lifeline talk to her students each spring, she said.

“First, I call it an informational presentation because they do not sign any of the students up for being an organ donor. That is for the student and their parents to decide,” Gagai said. “However I think it is really important because a lot of people have misconceived ideas about being an organ donor. Lifeline does an excellent job in explaining what organs can be donated as a living donor as well as at the time of death.”