Forty-two-year-old Leamon Yon and 23-year-old Shannon Pipes have both received organs; one through a living donor, the other through a tragedy.
"May 9th of this year will be one year."
After finding out he had diabetes 16 years ago, Yon says he never received proper instruction on how to manage the disease.
"Didn't tell me much about what not to eat, what to eat, and keep a check on sugar regularly."
Over the years the diabetes took its toll on Yon's eyes and kidneys. He was placed on the waiting list for a donor kidney and pancreas in 2006. Last May, he got the call he and his wife had been waiting for.
"We got a phone call saying your organs are on the way and you need to be, too."
Yon's good fortune was another family's tragedy.
"Thanks to a 30-year-old woman who we do not know, but she died May 9th, 2009, and she gave her organs to my husband."
If you could ever find the family that donated, what would you say to them?
"I don't really know what to say other than thank you for giving me a second chance at life."
Shannon Pipes was born with just one kidney and at the age of 11 she found out that one kidney was functioning at just 65 percent. Her prognosis wasn't great.
"They said by the age of 18 I would probably need dialysis or a transplant.
Four years ago she started a daily dialysis regimen that lasted two years. Because of other medical conditions, Shannon was turned down by two transplant centers.
"My doctor and I talked and he said I would not make it to 40 years old without a transplant."
Another transplant center decided to take the chance. Two years ago, her boyfriend, at the time, was tested to see if he was a match. He was.
The Yons and Shannon have formed a support group for those who are on the transplant waiting list or have gotten a new organ. They say the need for donors is great.
More than 104,000 are waiting for every transplant possible. There were only 11,000 donors from January to April of this year. Their message to others is simple.
"One person has the ability to save eight lives. When they die they could save eight more people. But prior to that you can do blood, you can do tissue, you can do a living kidney. You can do a piece of your liver. The possibilities are boundless. You can save so many lives."
Even with insurance transplants are costly with monthly medications up to $5,000 for the rest of their lives.
Friends and family of the Yons are planning a block party this Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Porter Park on Hwy. 77 at the base of Bailey Bridge.
Expect lots of food, music games and much more.
For more information, call 348-1289.
Transplant Awareness Block Party
10:00am - 2:00p.m.
Porter Park - Lynn Haven
For Information: 348-1289
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