ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Organ donation has been one of Secretary of State Jesse White’s biggest pushes. Now, one of his former employees is a model of just how important organ donation is.
Mark Mason left his job with White’s office because he needed a new liver. It wasn’t until he was at death’s door he got one. Mason loves to roller skate.
“I was raised on skating in Chicago. In-line skating is something that I have done all my life.”
But, health problems threatened to take away his passion. First, his liver failed. He spent years on a waiting list for a replacement. Then, cancer set in. That’s when he went to the Mayo Clinic.
“So, when you go into a place that you may not be returning from, sometimes you take things of value which, other than my Bible, I took my roller skates.”
This is Mason at the clinic. Doctors had just told him he had three days to live. This is Mason a few days later after his successful liver transplant.
Mason was only three days away from becoming one of the 20-people, on average, who die waiting on the organ donor list. Now, he’s using his second chance at life to recruit people to White’s organ donation registry.
“I will always be grateful to the donor and my donor’s family because they gave me the gift of life and, since they gave me the gift of life, I try to get out and encourage others to become registered organ donors.”
Before he got sick, Mason actually used to work for Secretary of State Jesse White. Now, his old boss is telling his story to help inspire people to sign up for the registry.
White says his story, and others like it, are why the list of potential donors gets bigger every year.
“You have to tell the stories. Then, you reflect back and say, ‘Hey, that could’ve been me. If I were on that list, I would want someone to speak out and encourage others to step up to the plate.”
A program so meaningful, it can save lives and give people, like Mason, another chance to do what they love most.
“Look at it, even though I went through rough times in life with this illness, but I got a second chance and I’m living every day. I’m enjoying every day of, as you’ve seen when I’m out there on those roller skates.”
Mason just had his annual check-up at the Mayo Clinic and all his test results came back clear.
Illinois’ donor registry is one of the top five in the country for the number of registered donors. It’s still growing. There are more than 6.5 million people now registered, but White’s office is nowhere near satisfied.
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