KODA reaches one million milestone - WDRB 41 Louisville News

KODA reaches one million milestone

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By: Katie Delaune - kdelaune@fox41.com

LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB Fox 41) -- 11-year-old Dylan Geitgey's tragedy turned out to save four lives.

"One of his kidneys went to a man right here in Kentucky, another of his kidneys and pancreas went to a man in North Carolina, his liver to a little girl in Memphis, Tennessee and his huge heart went to a young boy, a 10-year-old boy in Ohio," said Dylan's father Bobby to FOX 41 back in July.

Dylan was killed while riding his bike this summer. Police say the woman behind the wheel was driving drunk. Dylan's parents made a very big decision in the midst of unimaginable grief.

"He was such a giver," said the older Geitgy.

4-year-old James Hack's family knows this decision all too well. They donated his organs last week after police say his mother's boyfriend beat him to death. "We're going to miss him," said grieving family member Martha Conway Rodewig. "But other families are going to get the best Christmas present in the world is that they're child's going to live."

Almost two years to the day, Kerry Geron received just such a gift in the form of two new lungs. But she at first didn't want them.

"I was very strong in denial," said Geron. "I was just going to live my life breathing. I had 50% capacity. At that point I said, ‘I would breathe two breaths for every one of yours and go on with my life.'"

But after her second child, Kerry knew she couldn't be in denial about her pulmonary fibrosis any longer.  "I would do whatever it took to be with them," said Geron. "I didn't want to die."

Doctors immediately put this mother on a transplant list and nine months later Geron was wheeled into surgery. A year later, she contacted the mother of her 19-year-old donor, Keith.

"Since volunteering at 16 when he got his license, he said absolutely," said Geron.

Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, or KODA, say many donors are like Keith -- signing up to donate when getting their driver's license. Since starting the registry in 2006, 20,000 people a month take the pledge to be a donor. Last week, KODA reached another milestone.

"We reached our one millionth person registered on the Kentucky Donor registry and that's amazing," says Public Education Coordinator Christie Wesley.  She says messages from survivors have been a big help in reaching this goal.

The group says one person can save up to seven lives with their donation. Currently 640 Kentuckians are on the organ donor waiting list.

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