Casper Heart Transplant Recipient Celebrates National Donor Month

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April is National Donate Life month and Americans everywhere are encouraged to register to become an organ donor.

One Casper resident who had heart transplant surgery in March of 2010, says it's an organ donor who made it possible for him to live a healthy, normal life today.

Jason Wynia, heart transplant recipient says, "because of my transplant, I am alive. And I couldn't be alive without my donor."

Jason spent two weeks at Wyoming Medical Center trying to get stabilized before taking bigger steps toward solving the problem.

"I got flown to Salt Lake City and 5 days later I had my first surgery to install the LVAD."

The LVAD acts as an artificial heart, which Jason had for 9 months before receiving his new heart.

"It's a heart pump that's actually implanted into the bottom of the heart and does the function of the heart, circulating all the blood."

The waiting time for a new heart from an organ donor can be as little as 30 days and as long as a few years.

Jason's recovery after receiving the new heart was a relatively short period of time. He says, "after the transplant, I was in the hospital for 10 days. So, it was extremely fast."

Gary Loghry is a donation consultant and helps people start the donation process.

Loghry says, "nationally, locally, it's ever-increasing. There's over 200 people in Wyoming on the transplant waiting list, waiting for an organ transplant of some type."

120,000 people nationwide are waiting to receive an organ, and more than 70% of them need a kidney. He also says, it's relatively simple to become an organ donor.

"The most common way to join the registry in Wyoming is through the DMV, when people sign up to get their drivers licenses."

4 years later, Jason can enjoy all the same activities he used to.

Wynia says, "I've hiked Glacier National Park, Devil's Tower and plan to go on another vacation and go hiking somewhere this year."

There is an upcoming donor walk hosted by Donate Life Wyoming where organ donors can meet recipients and help spread the importance of being an organ donor throughout Casper.

The donor walk will be held on April 26th.
Follow Tony Cedrone on twitter @tony_p_said