Thompson family, International Donor Services raise awareness
|Yolanda and Tim Thompson listen emotionally as Alex McDonanld lectures about organ donation.|
A Huntington couple have taken almost every step to save their son, Ryan Thompson, including speaking out at a meeting Friday at the drivers license division.
Representatives of Intermountain Donor Services, accompanied them with hopes to raise awareness for organ donation.
The meeting was spearheaded by Alex McDonald, director of public education for IDS, followed by members of the Thompson couple who proceeded to tell the story of their 17 year-old son who is currently on the waiting list for a new liver.
During a question and answer session midway through the meeting Duane Bennett, supervisor for the DLD in Moab, stated that the most common issue that alarms citizens is the common misconception that by being an organ donor, when they pass away it will then be impossible to have an open casket funeral.
McDonald expelled the rumor, stating that an autopsy is much more invasive than the organ donation process and by no means would deter an open casket funeral. Furthermore, McDonald went on to inform the attendees that Utah currently has the highest number of donors in the United States per capita, with 90 percent of Utah's population already listed as donors.
"Unfortunately only one out of every 80 deaths in Utah actually qualify for organ donation," said McDonald. "In order for a person to qualify they must suffer brain death at the hospital in order to do the necessary operation in a timely manner, the good news is that one donor can save up to five lives."
Ryan Thompson's problems started in 2004 when he was in eighth grade. He began to experience aching joints to the point where he was unable to get out of bed in the morning. Over the next year this was followed by stomach pain and lack of energy.
During a two week hospitalization and undergoing tests at Primary Children's Medical Center, doctors dianosed him with pulmonary nodules, which caused difficulty breathing, combined with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. To make things worse, Ryan was diagnosed with a rare form of liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis which, according to the National Liver Foundation, is a chronic disease that causes scarring and inflammation in the bile ducts of the liver. The ducts become permanently blocked and bile accumulates, damaging it and causing cirrhosis, which has ultimately lead Ryan to the urgent need for a transplant. Ryan hasn't been able to attend school on a regular basis since last November.
"The school is trying to work with him, but they're just having a hard time finding tutors," said Yolanda Thompson, Ryan's mother. "He's gone to school a few times but just for a couple of hours and has his girlfriend bring his homework back and forth."
Ryan has reached the point that going anywhere is nearly impossible, stated Tim Thompson, Ryan's Father.
"It has been the hardest thing that we have ever been through," said Yolanda and Tim. "We had no idea how important organ donation really is until this whole thing. It's like our lives have all come to a complete stand-still for the last three years."
The Thomson family has set up a non profit trust fund for Ryan at Wells Fargo Bank, listed as the Ryan Thompson Liver Fund in order to help the family pay for the transplant. The family has also put together a web site for donations listed as www.HELPRYANNOW.com
According to the Thompsons, their main goal now is to help raise awareness for the importance of organ donation in hopes of helping other families with similar misfortunes.