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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There currently are more than 100,000 people in the United States waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
Some patients wait years for a match, so the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, or CORE, is helping transplant patients at Allegheny General Hospital stay patient.
Holidays spent in a hospital aren’t always cheery and bright.
“It almost feels like the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ the same thing over and over again every day. You are just going through the motions waiting on that call,” Craig Smith, a CORE volunteer, said.
But Smith, who is a heart transplant recipient, and many of the other volunteers know what it is like because they have already lived through it.
“I received a heart transplant a little over three years ago myself, and I can just tell you, when you are waiting on that transplant, even if you are doing okay physically health-wise, if you are stable, the waiting time is pretty agonizing,” Smith said. “It feels like your life is completely on pause.”
So now, they are reaching out by passing out goodie bags to patients at Allegheny General Hospital who are waiting on transplants.
“There’s something about when you experience something. All of a sudden, you want to help other people learn about it, too, because you never think it is going to happen to you, and all the sudden, it is,” said Melanie Lingenfelter, a liver transplant recipient.
The gift bags are a simple token to brighten someone’s day, especially for patients like Robert Clark Jr., who has been on the waiting list for more than a year.
“I was telling another girl about you bringing the gifts and stuff, and I said, ‘I don’t need anything.’ She said, ‘What do you mean?’ and I said, ‘I am thrilled to wake up every day,’ and that’s how it is,” said Clark, of West Liberty, West Virginia.
And, as for the big heart costume named Pumper?
“He’s got a big smiley face, and it is just kind of a way to cheer people up and kind of give them a little motivation and tell them that you can get to the other side, and that life is better after transplant, and we are all rooting for them,” said Smith.
And letting them know, that while they wait, there are others who understand.