Guest columnist explains liver disease

| December 15, 2011

Hey, it’s Talia!

This week I’ve decided to mix things up a little bit and let Mrs. Parish say a few things in my column.

If you don’t know Mrs. Parish, she’s the mom of my sister, Tamar’s best friend Anna who is the main reason I started this column – but I’ll let Anna’s mom fill you in on the rest.

Thanks again for reading!

By CHERYL PARISH
Guest Columnist

If you have been reading Talia’s Love 4 Life Project column the last few weeks, it will come as no shock what a personal issue organ donation is to me and my family.

We are grateful for Talia and her efforts to help raise awareness for this cause. My daughter, Anna, is currently on the organ donor transplant list. Anna has been waiting for two-and-a-half years for a new liver.

The doctors will refer to her condition as “end stage liver disease,” which sounds odd when you’re talking about a spunky little girl. It’s even more difficult explaining it to a 10-year-old!

She has so many questions, such as, “how did this happen to me?” and “what did I do to get this?”

Anna did nothing to get “end stage liver disease.” It is believed that her bile ducts may have been damaged by the body’s immune system in response to a viral infection acquired after birth.

This concept is hard to understand and explain. It is particularly extremely hard for a child to explain to her peers. But thanks to KODA, Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, Anna found the perfect tool for her classmates to get that explanation through their “Life is Cool” program.

By joining with KODA and Patty Barron, the principal at Dunn Elementary, Anna was able to bring “Life is Cool” to the school’s 4th and 5th grade programs. The program is simply amazing!

KODA provides teacher  and student workbooks for five teaching sessions which are taught by the school’s science teachers.

The children learn about their organs, how to read food labels and make healthy choices. Each night they take their workbook home to teach a family member what they learned.

At the end of the five lessons, KODA volunteers came to school and set up ten interactive learning stations. Each station provided an activity pertaining to the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, blood, cornea and tissue.

Four stations had actual pig organs, the closest in comparison to humans, so the children could see firsthand the size and texture of organs. Students were taught the functions of each organ, how to take care of them and what can happen if they do not.

It was a true hands-on learning experience. The children of Dunn Elementary asked very educated questions and were engaged in every activity. I think it was a science lesson that they will never forget.

After the program Anna explained, “my liver is different, and it doesn’t work as well as others, so it kind of scares me a little bit. But then I know that I’m going to get a new one and it’s going to be all fine.”

Hopefully by talking about her disease and helping to raise awareness, people will sign up to become organ donors and help someone like Anna get better.

I would love to see the “Life is Cool” program grow to serve many other schools and children in the future.

With early education, children will understand the need for organ donors so when they become adults they can make the decision to register.

Maybe someday there will no longer be a waiting list! Until then, Anna has helped her classmates learn more about keeping their bodies healthy and active.

Now that you know all about Anna and her struggle with organ donation – hopefully you will want to sign up and help make the wait list a little shorter. If you are interested in having the “Life is Cool” program come to your school, here’s how:

To inquire about “The Life is Cool” program, contact Jada Wilson, Education Coordinator at Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, j.wilson@kodaorgan.org.

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Category: Talia’s Love 4 Life Project

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