Local Transplant Survivor Working to Grow Donor Registry - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Local Transplant Survivor Working to Grow Donor Registry

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April is National Donate Life Month, and advocates here in town are working to boost the registry for organ donors.

"There's research that shows that the majority of Americans actually support donation," Nevada Donor Network Partner Liaison Monica Myles said, "but only about half end up registering."

In Nevada, the numbers are even lower. Myles said just 41 percent of eligible adults in the Silver State are registered, while thousands of people are on the donation waiting list.

In most cases, people who get an organ transplant are barely alive when they get to the top of the list. That was the case for Reno survivor Karyn Whitemaine.

"I was always very tired, and had no energy," Whitemaine said of the years she spent sick before her transplant. "I lost a lot of weight. Didn't have time to do anything, because all I wanted to do was sleep."

Whitemaine had complications from type 1 diabetes, which she lived with for more than 30 years before she received a life-saving transplant: a donated kidney and pancreas. She says the donation not only saved her life-- it cured her diabetes too, and allowed her to meet her first grandchild.

She's never gotten to thank the family of her donor in person, but she says she thinks about them every single day.

"Every day when I open my eyes and I can put my feet on the floor, that's the first thing I do, is thank them," Whitemaine said. "Because if it wasn't for their son, who was so gracious, and unselfish, and had the sense of goodness to become a donor, I wouldn't be here."

Whitemaine is now working with Donor Network West to spread awareness and get more people registered.

If you'd like to register to be an organ donor, or learn more about it, click here.

Through May, several local businesses are giving discounts to registered donors. To see the list of participating businesses, click here.

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