LOPA saves lives

Thousands of people's lives are at risk everyday.   They wait, as patiently as they can, for word of an available organ to save their lives. However, there's a desperate shortage of organ donations nationwide.  KPLC'S Laila Morcos brings you this story of two Southwest Louisiana people who were brought together through tragedy, but have experienced miracles in the aftermath through the gift of life.

Ten years ago, Connie Bush and her family's life took an unexpected, tragic turn.

"On November 1st, 1996, my son Daniel, 16 years old, grabbed me, twirled me around and said he loved me and ran out of the door. An hour and a half later, state troopers arrived at my door and told me he had an accident."

Within a short time, the Bush family knew Daniel would not survive.  "I feel like Daniel was preparing me for this by different things he would say," says Connie.

But although they knew they were losing Daniel, the family decided a part of him would still live and save the lives of others through organ donation.

Connie communicates with the recipient of Daniel's liver all the way in Pennsylvania. "Because of Daniel's gift, he has been able to finish work and retire, he has seen his sons marry and grandchildren born."

Kirby Detraz understands. He received a kidney from a 14 year old boy more than 7 years ago, a gift he's still emotional about. "How do you express to a family thanks for allowing me to continue to live. It's just a gift and thanking them for allowing them to live."

Kirby's retired now, but still does some par time work, he lives, enjoys life and spreads the word about organ donation along with Connie. "Knowing it actually helps in the grieving process because this person's life continues to have meaning," he says.

If you have any questions about organ donation or would like to share your story, the Louisiana Organ Procurement Association is having an open house Tuesday, November 7th from 6 to 8 PM at Garber Auditorium.