Forrest General Hosts Flag Dedication in Honor of National Donate Life Month
Brooke and Adam Lillie with MORA Representative, Joel Stevens, left.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (April 25, 2022) Brooke Miley Lillie knows it is possible to live a normal, healthy life after transplant. She’s done it, not once, but twice.
Lillie, 26, was the guest speaker on Friday, April 22, as Forrest General Hospital hosted a Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA) flag dedication at the hospital’s main entrance. The event honored donors and recognized the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation during National Donate Life Month. April 22 was also a day to observe the month by wearing blue and green, the colors promoting the importance of the Donate Life message to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor.
A heart and kidney transplant recipient, as well as a cancer survivor, Lillie, who is also a registered nurse, spoke about the importance of organ donors in her life. Lillie knows firsthand how a life can be changed through organ donation.
As a 13-month-old, Lillie, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, restrictive cardio myopathy. “My parents were told at that time that the only thing that would save my life was a heart transplant,” Brooke Lillie said. “After only 5 weeks of being on the waiting list for a new heart, we got the call that changed my life forever,” said Lillie. “A mother in Tennessee, who had just lost her 13-month-old baby boy in a car accident, allowed him to be an organ donor.”
“On Dec. 11, 1996, I received my heart transplant. And on that day, which was the worst day of her life, my donor’s mother made the decision to save not only my life, but seven other lives as well by making her son an organ donor,” said Brooke. While April is a special month for Brooke, it became even more so on April 20, 2021, when Brooke and her family had the opportunity to meet her heart donor’s mother, which she describes as a “very special time.”
Some 20-plus years later as an adult, Lillie, found herself in need of a second transplant. This time she needed a kidney. Anti-rejection drugs taken throughout her life had damaged her kidneys and left her with chronic renal failure. After battling Chronic Kidney Disease for several years, things took a turn for the worse and Lillie started dialysis. This time the newlywed needed to only look as far as her new husband, Adam, for a kidney. In 2019, Adam gave Brooke one of his kidneys.
This summer, the couple will compete in the National Transplant Games in San Diego, California. Brooke has competed and brought home medals from both the United States Transplant Games and the International Transplant Games. She and Adam will both be competing in golf, while Brooke will also compete in some track and field events and possibly swimming.
The Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA) teamed up with Forrest General and other hospital partners across the state to promote National Donate Life Month during April. Throughout the month, they are placing emphasis on the need for individuals of legal age to indicate their desire to donate by signing up on the Mississippi Donor Registry at www.donatelifems.org.
FGH Critical Care Director, Bryan Buckley, thanked families and patients who have given the gift of life through donation. “Since 2020, Forrest General’s collaboration with MORA has helped save the lives of more than 50 individuals and enhanced the lives of hundreds of additional recipients,” Buckley said. “Also, since 2020, MORA has been able to save more than 600 lives through transplants.”
According to MORA, a single tissue donor can help more than 75 people, and 48,000 patients have their sight restored through corneal transplants each year. Last year, more than 36,500 transplants changed the lives of patients and their families (from more than 10,700 deceased and 6,800 living donors), but more than 110,000 people still wait for transplants. That number is growing with another person added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.
“I would like to thank Forrest General and the families who have given the gift of life. They have had a huge impact on individuals and families in our community over the past year,” said Joel Stevens, MORA representative.
For more information about organ donation, visit www.donatelifems.org and to learn more about Forrest General, visit forrestgeneral.com.
If you would like to view additional photos and videos from Forrest Health, please visit our media page at https://media.forresthealth.org/.
Did you know that there are currently more than 110,000 people waiting for an organ donation? In the United States, a new person goes on the waiting list every 10 minutes. Did you also know that an average of 20 people die each day while on the waiting list for an organ donation? MORA and Donate Life MS are working to raise awareness on the issue of organ, eye, and tissue donation.
When you think of organ donations, you probably think big: hearts, lungs, kidneys, etc. But tissue groups like heart valves, tendons, and ligaments can also be useful. From just a single donor, up to eight lives can be saved through organ donation, and between 50 and 75 lives can be healed through tissue donations, and one eye donor can restore sight to 2 people.
SO WHAT CAN BE DONATED?
- Small Intestine
- Heart Valves