Keeping people alive, LifeNet Health teams up with local family
The issue of tissue returns to the forefront this September in Quincy.
Tissue donation has grown steadily over the past few decades, and a steady push to increase awareness of the need for donors has also reached the Basin.
Levi Anderson, general manager for Northwest Operations for LifeNet Health, said the need for tissue donation runs a broad gamut, which includes burn victims, heart valve replacements and torn ligaments.
“There are hundreds of ways in which patients can benefit from implants derived from tissue donations,” Anderson said.
Tissue donation and transplantation are growing, but the need is still greater than the number of grafts provided, given that some of them are age-specific.
On the other hand, tissue donation requirements tend to be more flexible than, for example, kidney donations, which require a very specific match.
Tissue donation has a strong connection to the Quincy area, where Kathleen Horning, mother of Ben Horning, has taken up the cause of creating awareness.
For the fifth year, a run event, Beat the Beast, in memory of Ben – who died in 2012 after he was hit by a car while running alongside a highway – will take place at Farmer-Consumer Awareness Day, in support of awareness of tissue donation. The event will be split into three different runs: 2k, 5k and 10k.
The run does not make much money, Horning said, estimating it raises about $7,000, but the main focus of the run and the LifeNet booth at FCAD is to create awareness.
“It’s been great,” she said of her time at FCAD during the five years of the run and the booth. “It’s given us the opportunity to keep our son alive, and some pretty miraculous things happen through LifeNet Health, and he has been a part of that. It’s been an honor.”
One such miracle occurred when she got a letter in the mail from one of the recipients of tissue from Ben’s body.
Getting the letter was great, she said, adding that her family is not really interested in meeting the recipient.
“That’s a tough one for us,” she said.
Hard days aside, she said the work raising awareness has been one of appreciation. The contact between LifeNet Health and the Hornings began hours after Ben died, to find out if the family would be willing to be a part of this.
“It touched my heart, the way they did it,” Kathleen Horning said. “Immediately, he was made important by people that we didn’t even know.”
Anderson said part of the mission of LifeNet Health is to help people through the grieving process.
“At no time do we want them to feel like it’s a transaction,” he said. “We want to support them through the grief process and provide the community with as much education as we can.”
Since those dark days of 2012, Horning’s goal has been to make sure people know this is an important issue. At the same time, it makes a big difference to her to know that her son is still helping people.
“It’s just a fantastic program with fantastic people,” she said of LifeNet Health.
Anderson said LifeNet Health started after its founder saw the need for tissue transplants among the naval community in the Norfolk, Va., area. The company has grown to the point that in 2016 alone, thousands of people in the Pacific Northwest received tissue implants, Anderson said.
It is important, he said, for people to learn that age or athleticism or physical condition aren’t big factors when it comes to donating tissue.
“More and more people every year are able to donate and provide valuable (tissue) to people in need,” he said. “We don’t want folks to self-diagnose and think they would not be a good potential tissue donor and that their gifts would not be used.”
People interested in learning more about LifeNet Health can go to www.lifenethealth.org. People interested in signing up for the run may contact CliftonLarsonAllen at 509-787-4513.
By Sebastian Moraga, email@example.com