Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 29

COURTESY SUSAN PUCKETT

COURTESY SHERRELL GAY

Far left: Ashaun Thompson runs track for Archer High School in
Gwinnett County. Left: "Our three grandchildren are a big part
of my bonus years," says Sherrell Gay. She and her husband,
Tony, are pictured with Roy, 4, Sadie, 2, and Harrison, 2 months.
Above: Sherrell and Tony Gay enjoy a trip to Canyonlands National
Park in Utah. Above right: Thomas Puckett rides his Appaloosa in
a competition.

a decision by going online and registering. Once people
know the facts, they're more willing to go forward."
But the need for organs still outpaces the number
of donors. In the U.S., more than 115,000 people are on
organ-transplant waiting lists; in Georgia, the number is
5,400, and 4,800 of those are patients awaiting kidneys.
LifeLink is just that: the link between donors and
recipients that helps doctors make matches and then
transports donated organs to one of the state's four
transplant centers within four to six hours. It's a mission
the organization has supported since its founding 30
years ago.
"With LifeLink, there's no competition for organs,"
Ide says. "We work closely with all hospitals in the state
and two counties in South Carolina to offer donation options. We look up what organs are viable, compare that
to the waiting list and, if a match pops up, we send out
the information immediately. Once we have the organs
placed, they're flown to transplant centers, and we coordinate the whole process."
An important part of that process is working with
donor families. Because Georgia is a first-person-consent
state, an individual's choice to be a donor cannot be
vetoed by family members. Volunteers whose loved
ones donated organs are often called on to support a
grieving family and to share the benefits of donation.
April 2018

LifeLink hosts memorial services for families of donors
and connects them with the organ recipients-a connection that often results in lifelong friendships.
"Our care doesn't stop once the donation process is
over," Ide says. "We're here for the families, too."
Donor names are displayed in the LifeLink offices
and added to a memorial quilt, support groups are available and remembrance services honor donors' memories. And many donor families volunteer their stories to
inspire others.

life

'What's most important to know is that
one organ donor can help up to 75 people,
and that's a huge legacy to leave.'
-Tracy Ide, LifeLink's senior public affairs
coordinator in Augusta
For Ide, being part of the LifeLink team fulfills a
family mission. As a child, she watched her mother-
that two-time heart recipient, Sherrell Gay-collapse on
the kitchen floor as her body rejected her first transplanted heart. Ide's grandmother, who died recently at
81, was an eye donor. And Gay and her husband, Tony,
offer the services of their business, Augusta Aviation, to
fly organs and doctors throughout the state.
"LifeLink is part of our entire family," Gay says.
More
"Without it, I wouldn't be here."
H.M. Cauley is an Atlanta-based author of three
guidebooks to Georgia and a feature writer whose work
regularly appears in local newspapers and magazines.

More online at www.georgiamagazine.org

29


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 11
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 12
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 13
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 14
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 15
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 16
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 17
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 18
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 19
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 20
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 21
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 22
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 23
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 24
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 25
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 26
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 27
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 28
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 29
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 30
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Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover4
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