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Wife donates lifesaving kidney to her husband

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By DAVID LEE

HUDSON—On Friday morning, April 19, in recognition of April being National Donate Life month, a group assembled on the steps in front of the Department of Motor Vehicles on Warren Street in Hudson to bring attention to the importance of being an organ donor.

The event was a co-presentation of Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner and the Donate Life NYS Executive Director Aisha Tator, and introduced county residents Jim and Erica Horton who had an amazing story of life-saving organ donation.
Jim, who is 44, had lived with a congenital kidney disease without too many symptoms until his mid-30s when he started feeling sick. Blood work revealed that his kidneys were failing and home dialysis was immediately started.


Standing on the steps of the Columbia County Department of Motor Vehicles building in Hudson (l-r) are: Donate Life NYS Executive Director Aisha M. Tator, Jim and Erica Horton and Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner. Photo by David Lee

Dialysis means attaching tubes to a person’s body and pumping all of one’s blood through a machine that does the work of cleaning that is normally accomplished by kidneys. Jim was hooked up to a machine for eight hours a night. The procedure also requires daily direct access to a person’s vascular system and the entry point is often prone to infections. He soon began traveling to a dialysis center for four-hour treatments three times a week.
Anyone familiar with the process of organ transplantation knows that there are many more people needing transplants than there are available organs. The tissue and blood types must match. Friends and family were tested and in a very unusual kismet, the perfect donor happened to be Jim’s wife, Erica. Surgery was done October 8, 2019 and now Jim and Erica Horton are both fine and healthy, though Jim must monitor his blood and continue to take anti-rejection drugs.
According to the New York State Department of Health website, 3,396 lifesaving organ and tissue transplants were performed in the state last year while 7,962 New Yorkers remain on the waitlist, and 369 New Yorkers died because an organ was not available. The Hortons were an example of a living donation, which does not require the donor be deceased. According to the Unite Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) a living person can donate a kidney or a part of a liver or other organs without major longterm ill effects.
The Department of Motor Vehicles plays an important role in the availability of organs for donation because on their drivers’ licenses it allows drivers to designate their organs for donation should they be pulled from the wreckage deceased with transplantable organs intact. County Clerk Tanner continues leading efforts to promote the Donate Life Registry and encourage more Columbia County residents to become organ donors.
Anyone 16 or older can also join the Donate Life Registry online at donatelifenys.org/register.

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