Bea Harris needed a kidney transplant, and her daughter, Belinda Taylor, was a perfect match. But Harris was hesitant to have her daughter make such a sacrifice, knowing the 36-year-old had a husband and two young children at home. But for Taylor, the choice was easy.
“You gave me life, and it has been a joy and honor in my life to give you that kidney back so that you can continue your life and watch your life continue to grow,” Taylor told her mom on Mother’s Day weekend as they gathered with other living donors and their recipients at UPMC’s annual Living Donor Celebration.
George Mazariegos, M.D., chief of pediatric transplantation at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Abhinav Humar, M.D., UPMC’s chief of transplant, spoke at the ceremony about the importance of living organ donation. Living donors can donate a kidney or part of a liver, and doing so means recipients don’t have to wait months or years for a cadaveric organ. More than 7,900 Pennsylvanians are awaiting an organ transplant. Each day, 18 people in the United States die while on the waiting list because a suitable match was not found in time.
More than 150 people attended Saturday’s event, and living donors were each presented with the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute Medal of Honor. Dr. Starzl, known as the father of transplantation, was the first to do a successful liver transplant, and he developed a drug that led to transplantation becoming an accepted treatment for many diseases that were otherwise considered incurable.