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article imageOrgan Donations Critically Needed Especially For Little Riley Special

By Anna Timone     Feb 19, 2013 in Health
Somerdale - A four-year-old boy named Riley O’Brien needs a heart and two lungs transplanted as soon as possible. In fact, he’s needed the transplant for his entire life, starting before he was even born.
During his mother’s 22 week pregnancy checkup, the doctor realized there was a problem. Carol O’Brien’s baby boy was diagnosed with Heterotaxy Syndrome and Congenital heart disease before he was even born. Naturally, the O’Brien’s were devastated with this diagnosis. "Our son had a 50% survival rate" Carol O'Brien said.
Riley surprised everyone. He beat the odds and is still fighting for his life. He has been on the national organ transplant wait-list since November 2009. Under the care of Doctor Rome from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, he has endured 26 heart cath procedures. How many more Riley can handle is questionable for his veins and body are growing weaker. Riley is on oxygen 24/7. But if he doesn't get his transplant soon he may not qualify—he’ll be too weak for the transplant operation.
So what’s the hang-up? Why is it taking so long to help a child and family who are suffering so much? To put it simply, the organs are simply not available, or when they have been the heart and two lungs were not acceptable. How can this change? Sign up to be an organ donor through their Department of Motor Vehicles or
According to Medscape, “Improved public and physician awareness of donor issues is the most important factor in increasing the donor supply because many potential donors are not identified as such.” And according to, “About 35% of them (people needing a transplant) die before a heart becomes available. Only about 2,000 heart transplants are done each year in North America, the major reason is lack of donors. Because of the severe shortage of organs, combined heart and lung transplants are rare (less than 20 per year are done in North America)”.
So, what can little Riley do? And what can YOU do to help?
First and foremost, choose to be a donor. Most states have a box to check on your driving license—one check mark, signature and you’re in. One check mark and you could give the gift of life to another.
Second, make sure your family knows your wish to be a donor. This is very important. Take care of stating this in your will.
Third, organize a community awareness day for Organ donation. Reach to OrganDonor.Gov for assistance.
As of today, organ donations are needed by over 117,167 adults and children throughout the world. The need is paramount and it cannot wait. 18 people will die each day waiting for an organ. One organ donor can help 8 people.
Finally, consider contributing to one of the crowd funding programs on the internet. All of these programs are designed to help many who are experiencing a serious health battle and are drowning financially.
For Riley O’Brien, an angel from Ontario, Canada created a housing fundraiser program on Indiegogo. Shawn Van Daele traveled to the U.S. and met the family. He left “compelled to help. Riley, his 12 year old brother Christian and his parents need a new home. They live in an old doctor's office that is 700 square feet. The home will not be acceptable for Riley come back to after he has the transplant operation for the heart and lungs.
Supermodel Emily Sandberg has joined the efforts to help Riley and his family. After hearing about his life struggle, she knew she had to get involved. “Riley, his older brother Christian and his family are an inspiration. When I first heard about their challenging journey, I knew that I had to act. Riley is one of three children in the US that needs one heart and two lungs. It is heartbreaking that the family also needs to find a new home.”
All this help is greatly appreciated and overwhelming for the O’Brien’s. A new home is important but for Riley and his family “nothing is as important as Riley’s life”. Every day they fight to help keep "their warrior," Riley alive. Carol O'Brien asks that you and your family members “Share our warrior’s journey and don’t forget to check the box to donate your organs.”
More about Organ donor, Organ transplant, Heart disease, Lungs, Home
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