April is Organ Donation Awareness Month and that awareness is what Irene Wilson hopes is the result of the annual renewal of an event she started in 2003. The Seventh Annual Second Chance 5K run is Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m. at parking lot at Romney Stadium at Utah State University. She became involved at a time when her daughter needed a heart transplant. “She was born with congenital heart problems,” said Wilson. “She’d had many surgeries throughout the years, just about yearly. They just did things to get her by. When she was 18 they didn’t know what else to do. They put her on the list to be a candidate for a heart transplant. Remarkably she was only on the list for six days when she got the call that a heart was available.” A 15-year old girl in Colorado had been killed in a tragic accident and the family had decided to donate the heart, liver and a kidney. Wilson said her daughter, Mandee Geary, is doing well. “She’s had a chance at a life she’d never had,” said Wilson. “After the surgery her lips were then pink, she remembers noticing that she wasn’t out of breath anymore. She’s still improving, she’s now 27.” Wilson said she and her family have grown close to the family of the Colorado teen who became the donor. “We see them three or four times a year and they are just like our family. There was only one other girl in their family and she’s the same age as my daughter and they’re like sisters. Her husband told us that for the first year after her sister passed away she cried every night until she talked to my daughter on the phone. She told us that is what helped her get through the loss.” Wilson said she hopes the Second Chance run will call attention to how great the need is for donated organs. She said there are 100,000 people in America needing organs and 18 people a day die nationally waiting for an organ transplant. “Every 12 minutes some one new is added to the national organ registry,” said Wilson. Registration ($15 cost) for the event starts at 8 a.m. April 24 at the Romney Stadium parking lot and participants will line up for the run at 8:45. Pre-registration is possible at getpatients.com.
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