Woman's Death is Reminder of Importance of Organ Donation
Kristen Reid's death may mean life for others
ANCHORAGE - She was shot in the head, police say, by her ex-boyfriend.
Kristen Reid is now brain-dead. But the 30-year-old could be saving lives within hours.
Reid is on the Alaska organ donor registry. And a medical team from Seattle was in Anchorage earlier this afternoon to prepare her body for organ removal.
Reid’s father, Ken Malay, was at Alaska Native Medical Center today filling out the paperwork necessary for his daughter's organs to be “recovered” for transplants into patients on waiting lists in Seattle.
"We thought at first we were going to lose that right with the autopsy, but they worked with us really pleasantly and made it happen so that everything from the head down could be used. She was shot through one eye, so one eye wasn't available."
An advance team from Seattle was doing tests and preparing Reid’s body this afternoon, with a surgical team to follow once recipients have been identified.
Said Bruce Zalneraitis of Life Alaska Donor Services: "This is a time of matching the donor organs with the recipients, so that when the recovery takes place -- the surgery -- they know what recipients are going to get those organs."
As Kristen’s body was being prepared for surgery, she had not been technically declared dead yet. Her father says that would happen when she gets to the medical examiner's office for the autopsy. But meanwhile, he says he hopes that her organs can save some lives.
"What they did say was, except for her brain, everything else looked in good shape. So somebody should be getting a gift here real quick."
Reid was not alone in her generosity.
Alaskans rank first in the United States for potential donors, with 78 percent of drivers signing up for the donor registry, mostly when renewing their licenses through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Said Robert Meyer, a heart transplant recipient in 2003, "Having been a recipient, there just aren't enough ways to express your gratitude for somebody making that gift because it's a very special gift to those who are receiving it."
"I loved my daughter a lot,” Malay said. “She was very special. And even after the end, she's special. And I hope the organs she gives, that we’ll be able to eventually get in touch with those people."
In death, we are yet in life.
Because most organs can be preserved for only a few hours, the majority of those donated by Alaskans are transplanted in Seattle.
Most Alaskans who get transplants have the procedures done in Seattle. But tissue donations, like corneas and skin for grafts, are transplanted in different locations throughout the state.