Right now, there are nearly 200 people in Wyoming waiting on livesaving organ transplants, and hundreds more that could benefit from eye and tissue donations. Saying yes to becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor saves lives. Transplants offer patients a new chance at healthy and productive lives, returning them to their families, friends and communities. At the time of their death, just one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save or heal more than 75 lives through eye and tissue donation. Wyoming residents can register their decision to be organ, eye and tissue donors at the time of their death by saying ‘yes’ each time they obtain or renew a driver license or state ID, or at www.DonateLifeWyoming.org. Anyone can register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, regardless of age, race, medical history, religion or income. Even those with chronic conditions, such as hepatitis and diabetes, can register to give the gift of life to people in need of transplants, like Cayde from Cheyenne. You can read Cayde’s story below.
Caydence or “Cayde” faced a difficult diagnosis starting at just 8 months old. She had pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary vein stenosis, which meant a young childhood with an abundance of caution. She was discouraged from running or playing too hard out of fear that the excitement could take too big of a toll on her fragile body.
In order to live a healthy life, doctors told Cayde’s family that she would need a double lung transplant, a rare transplant due to the fact that only child donors can donate lungs to young children. But Cayde persevered through the limiting illness with a smile on her face, and she and her family waited and hoped that a transplant would become available. They waited for more than four years, one year of which was spent in the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, TX, thousands of miles away from their own home in Wyoming. (There is a pediatric lung transplant program in that area.)
At the age of 6, after living with her condition for most of her young life, Cayde’s family got word that lungs were ready for her. She received her transplant in 2013.
“Since that day, her new life began,” said Patricia Schutte, Cayde’s grandmother. “The one thing she wanted the most was to be able to run and run and no one tell her to slow down. Every day since, she has not slowed down. Her life is a brand new adventure, a new chapter to be lived to the fullest.”
Cayde and her family are now dedicated advocates for the cause of donation, participating in awareness-raising activities throughout the Western and Rocky Mountain regions. In the summer of 2014, just 14 months after her transplant, Cayde participated in the Transplant Games of America and earned the gold medal in bowling.
Cayde also shows wisdom and kindness beyond her years by enthusiastically speaking with other children who are on the transplant waiting list, offering words of encouragement. She also dutifully cares for her three “daughters” – American Girl dolls – named Alyssa, Elli and Bethany in remembrance of children she met along her transplant journey who were not so fortunate, and died waiting.
In 2014, Cayde’s family learned what it meant to be on the other side of the transplant experience, when Cayde’s grandmother Nancy passed away and was able to donate her eyes to a patient in need. Cayde reports that she is very proud of her “Grandma ‘Ancy.”
“Someday we hope to meet Cayde’s donor family,” said Patricia. “We want to share Caydence with them. Each breath she takes is a tribute to an amazing person and family, who gave of themselves in a moment and in doing so gave Cayde a second chance at life.”
About Donor Alliance
Donor Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. As the organ procurement organization and accredited tissue bank for Colorado and most of Wyoming, Donor Alliance serves more than 5.8 million residents and more than 100 hospitals. The organization adheres to medical, regulatory and ethical standards: respectfully working with the families of organ and tissue donors, maintaining partnerships with hospitals, educating residents on the life-saving benefits of donation and inspiring them to sign up on the state’s donor registry. Colorado and Wyoming boast some of the highest rates of donor registration in the country, which directly translates to more lives saved through organ and tissue transplantation. Donor Alliance is one of 58 federally designated organizations of its kind in the United States, and is also an American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) accredited tissue bank. For more information, please visit DonorAlliance.org or the Donate Life Colorado or Donate Life Wyoming Facebook pages.