Donor, recipient share story during Donate Life Celebration

PHOTO PROVIDED Pictured from left are Steve Johnson, Mark Thompson, Ben Brigandi; members of UPMC Susquehanna’s Organ and Tissue Donation Council, and Tom Moyer.

WILLIAMSPORT– UPMC Susquehanna recently hosted a Donate Life Month Celebration. The event featured presentations on UPMC Susquehanna’s work in promoting organ transplantation and donation by members of UPMC Susquehanna’s Organ and Tissue Donation Council, Steve Johnson, president of UPMC Susquehanna, and Tom Moyer, Gift of Life Donor Program Hospital Services coordinator, as well as Ben Brigandi and Mark Thompson, who shared their living kidney donor and recipient story.

“I received the ultimate gift, the gift of life, because of someone else’s selfless giving,” said Ben Brigandi, kidney transplant recipient. “At 40 years old you don’t expect to have to deal with kidney failure. My life changed, I started dialysis and eventually we started discussing transplant. There’s just so many unknowns and we learned to take life day by day. Mark, like many other donors, made a choice to help someone he barely knew. I don’t even want to consider what my life would be like today had he not decided to become a donor and I’m forever grateful to him for doing so.”

“This whole experience has been surreal,” said Mark Thompson, Ben’s kidney donor. “I remember hearing about Ben and his family, and their story is what inspired me to become a donor. It amazed me that one choice could affect a life so much. I’m hoping by sharing our story that we can encourage others to consider becoming living donors and change the lives of those waiting for a transplant.”

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