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Organ donation urged at MVA

April 25, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Eight years ago, Michael Butler was running an obstacle course for his job with the Frederick County Sheriff's Department when he collapsed at the finish line and could not get up.

Tests revealed that he had kidney failure, most likely caused by diabetes.

After eight months of taking dialysis 31/2 hours a day, three times a week, transplant organizers found him a donor kidney and pancreas.

Butler's new organs came from a 27-year-old woman named Kelly, who died from a brain aneurysm.

On Thursday, Butler joined employees at the Motor Vehicle Administration office in Hagerstown to encourage people to become organ donors like Kelly.

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"I got a hero and an angel. I think about her all the time," he said.

Butler has returned to work full time and is able to do things he couldn't do before such as coach Little League.

Ever since his successful transplant operation, Butler, 39, said he doesn't take one day for granted.

"Little aches and pains don't bother me anymore. I don't think a lot of people realize until they get sick how precious life is," he said.

MVA employees and elected officials donned T-shirts urging people to sign up as donors when they renew their driver's licenses.

Customer Robert Fulp, 34, of Boonsboro, said he was convinced to add the organ donor designation to his license.

"Everybody's doing it now," he said.

About 40 percent of drivers in Maryland are registered donors, said Joseph J. O'Donnell Jr., a spokesman with the Transplant Resource Center for Maryland.

More than 40,000 of them live in Washington County.

Last year, transplants saved 438 lives in Maryland. But about 200 others died waiting for a match.

In 2001, Washington County Hospital was the No. 2 donor hospital behind University of Maryland Shock Trauma, said another center spokeswoman, Kimberly Miltonberger.

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