Welcome! I’d like to share with you why I am so passionate about saving lives and improving health through my volunteer work with Donate Life Northwest.
Imagine your bright, artistic and beautiful 21 year old sister has suddenly received a frightening diagnosis: she learns that she has Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the healthy tissues and organs throughout her body.
This was the reality of my beautiful and loving sister, Debra (Debbie) Sanchez. By the time she was 21, Debbie had suffered many “flares” of Lupus that sent her in and out of the hospital. This continued for the next 10 years, despite the help of doctors from all over the country, medications and treatments. Unfortunately, her disease progressed to the point that Debbie’s kidneys failed and she was placed on kidney dialysis, a life-support treatment that uses a special machine to filter harmful wastes from her blood.
For nearly four years, Debbie would go to a local dialysis center 3 days per week, hooked up to this machine for over 3 hours every time. She would often become nauseated and weak. She was so exhausted afterwards that she would need to sleep much of the following day. This meant no vacations, no travel, no hobbies and no work. Life came to a standstill for Debbie. Her bones became so weak and brittle that she suffered several bone fractures. She lost a lot of weight. Her heart began to fail because of the toxic buildup in her blood. She was very anemic and incredibly tired…..all of the time. Dialysis is life-support - not a permanent solution.
To save her life, Debbie needed a kidney transplant. But there was a problem: thousands of people are in need of kidney transplants, and this need greatly exceeds the number of kidneys available from deceased organ donors. Every single day, 30 men, women, and children on the organ transplant waiting list pass away.
Thankfully, Debbie learned about the lifesaving gift of living kidney donation, and began to share information about it. As her family, we had of course always wanted to help Debbie, but didn’t know how. When her siblings learned we could safely donate a kidney to our sister, I stepped forward to get tested.
I WAS A MATCH!!! On October 21, 2013, my left kidney was removed and transferred to Debbie’s weak and failing body in the operating room right next to the one I was in. I’ll never forget the visit I made to her hospital bed the very next morning. She was so full of energy and life….something we had not seen in years.
Almost five years later, Debbie has a new, healthy, vibrant happy life, and I’ve never been healthier in my adult life! She can again travel, work, and just simply enjoy life. She tells me that not only will I always have a piece of her heart but she will now always have a piece of me.
Through this experience, I have become a strong advocate for organ donation, both living and deceased. I saw firsthand how it changed and saved the life of my sister. It has been amazing to see the transformation in Debbie. Since that day in October 2013, I continue to hear so many beautiful and heart-warming stories that are gifts of life from both donors and recipients as a Board member for Donate Life Northwest.
I hope you will join me now in supporting Donate Life Northwest, a non-profit organization that does amazing work by educating our community about organ and tissue donation. They need your help to reach more people with targeted, award-winning educational programs to increase the number of donors in the Pacific Northwest. There are 1,654 people waiting for a kidney today in Washington – people just like my sister Debbie. Your gift gives hope to those waiting, and will help us save more lives through the incredible gift of donation.
I sincerely hope you will consider making a contribution to Donate Life Northwest. You can do so easily through this website – just click on the “Donate Now” button. Any amount toward my fundraising goal is greatly appreciated
I also invite you to join me on May 26th at the Tabor Trot – a family-friendly awareness walk in Portland, Oregon. Learn more at www.tabortrot.com
Thank you in advance for your generous support of Donate Life Northwest,
Thomas (Tom) Sanchez