Donate Life Month celebrates lives reborn

April 11, 2014

For many, April signifies the start of spring with the first signs of sunnier days, bluer skies and growing flowers. But for transplant patients, their families and donors, April symbolizes another kind of rebirth – the journey of organ transplantation and the generous gifts of organ donors. Started in 2003, April is National Donate Life Month to highlight the growing need for organ and tissue donations and provide a positive reminder for people to sign up to become donors.

As a former pastor, Troy Milford spent years counseling his congregation through the joys and challenges of their lives. But, as it turns out, he was quietly dealing with a challenge of his own — polycystic kidney disease. Though he felt well on dialysis, he needed a kidney transplant. Several of Troy’s family members were tested in hopes of donating their kidney to him, but they were not matches. Troy’s friend and parishioner, Robert Poole was then tested, but he wasn’t a match either. That's when Robert learned about the Kidney Paired Donor Exchange Program at Emory University Hospital. In 2013, just months later, Troy and Robert became part of the world’s second largest kidney swap in history, and the largest kidney swap to be concluded in less than 40 days.