[ back ]
Liver transplant saved Westside woman 10 years ago
|Afatamah McNair shares her love of dance and song. A liver transplant 10 years ago saved her life and now she volunteers her time to share her story.
It is the time of year for being thankful, a concept Westside resident Afatamah McNair understands after she received a liver transplant 10 years ago.
McNair lives a healthy lifestyle. She eats a diet of fruits and vegetables and keeps physically fit through a dance and drum group she performs with.
When McNair experienced chronic itching on the palms of her hands and bottom of her feet, and feltfatigued, she guessed it was an allergic reaction or she had possibly ingested pesticides from food she consumed.
However, after visiting a doctor she learned her liver was failing.
The itching was a symptom of an auto-immune disease that damaged her liver. Without a transplant, McNair would die.
Approximately three months later she found a donor and the operation was performed Oct. 6, 2001. During this time, McNair’s brother was waiting for a kidney transplant, but would not find a donor and pass away shortly after her surgery.
According to Rachel Lewis, media relations and community outreach coordinator for Lifeline of Ohio, the time it takes to find a donor depends on the severity of an individual’s condition and succesfully finding a matching donor. McNair was lucky; finding a donor after such a short time is not typical.
“Sadly, many people wait and a transplant never comes,” Lewis said.
More than 2,000 Ohioans died in the last 10 years while waiting for an organ transplant. As of mid-November, around 500 people are on the waiting list in central Ohio.
“I immediately saw the world and life differently. I saw it through different eyes. It’s such a gift,” McNair said. “I don’t take anything for granted, even the negative things that happen. They happen for a reason.”
McNair believes her ordeal served a purpose and, to show her gratefulness, she volunteers her time at the office of Lifeline of Ohio, festivals and stays active in the donor community.
Lifeline of Ohio is an independent non-profit organization that works year round. It shares stories like McNair’s and educates people on the importance of donating organs and tissue. They advocate organ donations in central and southeastern Ohio.
Statistics show that last year 303 Ohioans donated organs, resulting in 901 transplants and improved lives for another 1,619 individuals. A single donor can provide organs for eight people and enhance the life of up to 50 more.
Lewis said the majority of the public supports organ donations, but only a small fraction are registered donors. She said this is due to misconceptions that are not true, like the myth that doctors would let a person die to obtain their organs.
Ohio has approximately 5 million residents who are registered organ donors. Lewis said this is a first for the state and remarkable to see.
McNair is especially thankful this holiday season, as her liver transplant allowed her to spend more time with her family – consisting of 10 children, 30 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Her new liver enabled her to witness the birth of 11 grandchildren born in the last 10 years
“I’d like to say right now my life is really good. I have my family around me and I want to thank my donor and my donor’s family,” McNair said.
Through registering as an organ donor, everyone can be a hero, McNair said.
Individuals can become organ donors by registering at www.lifelineofohio.org or at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
[ back ]