Lafayette native Janie Campbell knows just how a kidney can be so precious. Her younger brother, David Dugas, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 7. While Janie was always healthy, her sibling was constantly battling illness. She prayed constantly for his recovery, but by the time he reached his 20s, David's kidneys started failing, and Janie realized that she might have to take a more active role to save his life. "That was the first time I started thinking, 'They might ask me to give him a kidney,'" she recalls.
David's doctors recommended a pancreas transplant and found another donor. The transplant at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center went well at first ' David could eat sweets, stopped taking insulin shots and eventually returned to work. Three years later, his kidneys again started to fail.
Janie went to see him in Memphis, where David's thoughts turned to his wife. "He said, 'You know, my poor wife. How can I be a good husband to her? I'm always sick,'" Janie remembers. "And it just broke my heart. So, I thought, 'I'm just going to do it.'"
Six months later, the siblings underwent four days of extensive testing and were cleared for the donation process. They had to wait another three months to undergo the procedure. After the surgery, Campbell remained in the hospital for four days, then stayed at the hotel adjacent to the transplant center for another couple of days. She recovered at home for about six weeks, then returned to her work as a tutor. "The surgery wasn't bad," she says. "It felt like a bad stitch in my side. And the euphoria of knowing how it all went kind of helped. My brother was so excited. Everyone was."
For David, the recuperation process was difficult. Post-surgery, he was on dialysis. He had a rejection episode about six months later but eventually recovered and is now six years post-transplant. "He is doing very well," Campbell reports. "He is not able to work, because of all the damage that had been done to his organs. But, he cooks, cleans, and he is remodeling his house. He's very happy. If it weren't for the transplants, I don't know how long he would have lasted."
About three years later, Campbell felt a strong need to tell people about the importance of organ donation. A friend recommended that she contact the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency's outreach person, Libbie Harrison, to volunteer. When she called, Campbell told Harrison about her experience, and recounted a story about a local couple who had donated their teenager's organs after he died in truck accident.
Harrison calmly responded, "That was my son."
Harrison, LOPA's family advocate and community educator, started volunteering after two tragic experiences. The first occurred in 1994, when her father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. At that time, the only solution was a transplant. After two years of waiting for a heart, Harrison's father died. "We were so angry that Daddy died," Harrison recalls. "We thought that you really had to be rich and famous to get a transplant."
At that point, Harrison's 15-year-old son, Justin, decided to scour the Internet for information on organ donation. Afterwards, he gathered his parents and four siblings together and encouraged them to express their wishes about donation. "We all agreed that it was the right thing to do," Harrison says.
Eleven months to the day after his grandfather's funeral, Justin fell from the back of a stationary pickup truck and struck his head. As the family waited anxiously at the hospital for word of his condition, Harrison says she was on her knees "begging, pleading, and making deals with God."
Justin was declared brain dead. "At first, I totally did not understand brain death, because he was still hooked up to the machine, so his body was still functioning," Harrison recalls. "So, that didn't look like death to me. And again, I prayed some more, and begged some more, and wanted to take him home. And at some point, I realized he was home, but he wasn't going to be with me."
Once Harrison reached that realization, she started asking questions about organ donation. Her biggest fear was that Justin would be disfigured by the process, but LOPA's representative reassured her that would not happen. "She assured me that it would not affect the viewing at the funeral," Harrison says. "It would, however, delay the funeral, perhaps even a day, because it does take some time to find all of the perfect matches."
Justin's organs saved five lives and gave sight to two others. Harrison has maintained contact with the recipients of his heart, pancreas and left kidney, and recently heard from his right kidney donee. "Something really good happened that day, too," Harrison said. "Because, if we would have said no, we wouldn't have Justin, and these folks would have died also."
Harrison started volunteering at LOPA nine years ago and became a full-time employee in 2000. Louisiana has 1.5 million registered donors, and more than 100 new donors sign up each year. "Our outreach efforts are working, and we are saving more lives than we ever have," she says. "What Justin said is right, because after Daddy died, and after Justin did all of that research, he said, 'Mama, if more people knew about donation, Paw Paw would still be alive. We are going to make people talk about this.' So, therein lies my determination to tell people what I can do for Justin and Daddy. Justin is my little hero."
Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency
301 E. Kaliste Saloom Road
To become an organ donor: Sign up at the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, or register with LOPA online at www.LOPA.org or by calling (800) 521-GIVE.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
Fiery style for game day
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
No laboring for shoppers this holiday
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage