Donate Life Month event, April 4, aims to encourage organ donor registration
Receiving a life-changing liver transplant was bittersweet for 63-year-old Dan Westmoreland and his family. The liver he received in July 2017 came from his own daughter’s boyfriend, who suffered an unexpected and fatal brain aneurism. Westmoreland will talk about this gift of life and the importance of organ donation as the featured speaker at a Donate Life Month ceremony at Medical City Fort Worth on Wednesday, April 4, at 9:30 am.
The organ donation awareness event on April 4 is co-sponsored by LifeGift, and visitors will have an opportunity to register to be organ, eye and tissue donors. A Color Guard detail from NAS Fort Worth JRB will raise the American flag to begin the ceremony and a special flag commemorating organ donation month will also be flown.
“I got a phone call at home. My daughter was crying and said her boyfriend, Tad (Ralph Lemon III), had collapsed,” Westmoreland recalled. “Tad’s father knew that his son wanted to be an organ donor and he directed Tad’s liver to be donated to me. I was unaware at the time that was even possible. But the transplant team at Medical City Fort Worth got the transplant process in motion and found that his liver was a perfect match for me. They called it a medical miracle.”
“Dan was very fortunate to get an organ through directed donation,” said transplant hepatologist Omar Haq, MD, medical director of the liver transplant program at Medical City Fort Worth. “After the transplant, Dan was out of the hospital within three days. Now, he is doing well, his liver is functioning well and he is able to enjoy a tremendously improved quality of life and to be able to spend more time with his family. Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States are affected by diseases that cause terminal and end stage damage to various organs. For many of these patients, like Dan, the only life-saving measure is organ transplantation. And these patients will never receive transplants unless people are willing to donate organs.”
“My son and I had discussed organ donation before and I was following his wishes,” Ralph Lemon Jr., Tad’s father, shared. “We were doing what we had been taught to do, and that’s to help others. Every passing creates a cloud, but by being an organ donor, God gives us a chance for a silver lining.”
Westmoreland said it was initially difficult to accept that his life was saved through the loss of another life so close to his family. But, he is now at peace and appreciates every moment of the new, healthier life that he’s been given.
More than 115,000 people are on the transplant waiting list in Texas alone. Register to become an organ donor online at DonateLifeTexas.org. For more information about kidney and liver transplants and options for living organ donation, visit MedicalCityFortWorth.com/transplant.