Candle-lighting Ceremony Sunday to Honor Organ Donors, Recipients
MAYWOOD, IL – After a year of travel and self-reflection, Tom Hanch said he prayed to find a way to be a blessing to someone else. He would find a special way to do so.
Inspired by a television news story on organ donation, Mr. Hanch contacted Loyola Medicine and met with Raquel Garcia Roca, MD, FACS, surgical director of renal transplants, to discuss becoming an altruistic living donor.
"He called and said he wanted to donate a kidney. We said, 'Who's your recipient?' and he said, 'I don't know. I just want to give a kidney. That's all I want to do,'" Dr. Garcia Roca said. "Of course, that's very exciting because someone might benefit from this gracious person."
April is National Donate Life month. Loyola Medicine will recognize donors and recipients including Mr. Hanch at the 26th Candle-lighting Ceremony Sunday, April 23 at noon in the Loyola Outpatient Center, 2600 S. First Ave., Maywood. The event is open to the media.
Just 18 percent of all organ transplants – about 6,000 annually – are completed with organs from living donors, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Kidneys are the most common organ given through living donation and most living donors give to a relative.
Mr. Hanch, of Chicago, underwent a series of tests and then waited until a match could be identified. In July, he learned he was a compatible donor for a 25-year-old man.
"To know that I'm going to help somebody be untethered from going through dialysis on a regular basis, that their life is going to be changed. It felt fantastic," Mr. Hanch said.
Mr. Hanch was one of 246 organ transplants performed at Loyola Medicine in 2016, the highest number it has recorded during the program’s 45-year history.
The Loyola kidney transplant program recently was expanded with the addition of 10 clinical and administrative staffers. In 2016, Loyola performed 106 kidney transplants, breaking its previous record, and physicians expect to perform even more kidney transplants in 2017.
Today, Mr. Hanch has no regret about being a living donor and encourages others to follow his path.
"Loyola was great. I knew I had to go through with this and they were helpful every step of the way," Mr. Hanch said. "I had prayed to find a way to be a blessing to someone in need. This serves a reminder that God really does answer prayers."