Event promotes organ and tissue donation

Saturday, January 5, 2008
Former Dallas Cowboys star Everson Walls, center, spoke to Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi, right, as Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., left, and Dr. Allan Doctor, second from left, listened Friday at Children's Hospital in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- When 9-year-old Jazmyne Davis of Belleville, Ill., died in September from a massive asthma attack, her parents didn't hesitate to donate their child's organs.

"Before she did her own homework, she helped other kids. She was giving. It felt right," said Clarence Davis, who takes comfort knowing his "baby" continued to give to others, even in death.

Davis and other families of organ donors and recipients told their stories Friday at St. Louis Children's Hospital to stress the critical need for organ donation.

They included former Dallas Cowboys star Everson Walls, who donated a kidney to his friend, former teammate Ron Springs, last year.

On Friday, Walls teamed up with Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., who introduced a bill in September that would develop, expand and improve state organ and tissue donor registries and improve information sharing between them.

Clay's bill would provide grants to states' organ donor registries and study the feasibility of a database to track the health of people who have donated organs.

The Everson Walls and Ron Springs Gift For Life Act of 2007 also would establish a clearinghouse for states on organ donation.

Clay said the bill would elevate tissue and organ donation to a national health care priority at a time when 97,000 patients are waiting for organs.

Last year, 6,000 people in the U.S. died while awaiting transplants. Clay's staff said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., will sponsor a companion bill in the Senate.

St. Louis Children's Hospital last year performed 94 organ transplants, its most ever, but 100 children are still on the waiting list.

"The issue is the availability of organs," hospital president Lee Fetter said. "This is a critically important bill."

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