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Campaign makes push for organ donations

Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review - Ron Gooden, defensive line coach of the Hampton football team, encourages a player to hold his stance while lifting weights. Eighteen months ago Gooden received a heart transplant. He has been with Hampton High School for 13 years and said the support he received from the community and especially his colleagues Jacque Dematieo, head coach of the football team, and Bob Cardone, Hampton's Athletic Director, was essential to the transplant and healing process.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Gwen Titley  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Ron Gooden, defensive line coach of the Hampton football team, encourages a player to hold his stance while lifting weights. Eighteen months ago Gooden received a heart transplant. He has been with Hampton High School for 13 years and said the support he received from the community and especially his colleagues Jacque Dematieo, head coach of the football team, and Bob Cardone, Hampton's Athletic Director, was essential to the transplant and healing process.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review - Ron Gooden, defensive line coach of the Hampton football team, encourages a player to hold his stance while lifting weights. Eighteen months ago Gooden received a heart transplant. He has been with Hampton High School for 13 years and said the support he received from the community and especially his colleagues Jacque Dematieo, head coach of the football team, and Bob Cardone, Hampton's Athletic Director, was essential to the transplant and healing process.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Gwen Titley  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Ron Gooden, defensive line coach of the Hampton football team, encourages a player to hold his stance while lifting weights. Eighteen months ago Gooden received a heart transplant. He has been with Hampton High School for 13 years and said the support he received from the community and especially his colleagues Jacque Dematieo, head coach of the football team, and Bob Cardone, Hampton's Athletic Director, was essential to the transplant and healing process.
- Antonella Kasic, 16, poses for a portrait in her bedroom at her family's house in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations. Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
Antonella Kasic, 16, poses for a portrait in her bedroom at her family's house in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations.  Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
- 16-year-old Antonella Kasic's bureau at her home in Morningside, is covered in photos of family and friends. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations. Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
16-year-old Antonella Kasic's bureau at her home in Morningside, is covered in photos of family and friends. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations.  Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
- Antonella Kasic, 16, poses for a portrait in her bedroom at her family's house in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations. Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
Antonella Kasic, 16, poses for a portrait in her bedroom at her family's house in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations.  Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
- Antonella Kasic (center), 16, poses for a portrait with her mother Mirela Kasic and father Franco Kasic along their street in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Antonella Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations. Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
Antonella Kasic (center), 16, poses for a portrait with her mother Mirela Kasic and father Franco Kasic along their street in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Antonella Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations.  Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
- Antonella Kasic, 16, poses for a portrait in her bedroom at her family's house in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations. Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
Antonella Kasic, 16, poses for a portrait in her bedroom at her family's house in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations.  Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
- Antonella Kasic (center), 16, poses for a portrait with her mother Mirela Kasic and father Franco Kasic along their street in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Antonella Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations. Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.
Antonella Kasic (center), 16, poses for a portrait with her mother Mirela Kasic and father Franco Kasic along their street in Morningside on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Antonella Kasic needs a small bowel transplant, and her family moved to Pittsburgh when she was 3 to be close to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for that reason. Donate Life PA has launched a new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which will include videos of organ recipients, donors and others affected by organ donations.  Kasic made one of the videos. She has to take medicine through a permanent IV five days a week for six hours until they find another small bowel that will be her perfect match.

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Long waiting list

Of 118,022 people nationwide on the waiting list for transplants, 81.5 percent are waiting for kidneys, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the federally established agency that oversees the nation's transplant waiting list. In Pennsylvania, 78 percent of 8,363 people on the waiting list need kidneys.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, May 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Ron Gooden, 56, considers his birthday to be Nov. 22, 2011.

That's the day the Hampton resident received a heart transplant.

“I just thank God every day for the donor family's decision — unselfish decision — to make this donation, because without that, I would not be here today,” Gooden said.

Gooden speaks in a video about the impact of transplants as part of Donate Life Pennsylvania's new campaign, “30 Seconds,” which aims to increase the number of people designating themselves as organ donors on their driver's licenses or other state identification.

In Pennsylvania, 46 percent of licensed drivers and other state identification holders — or 4.4 million people — are designated organ and tissue donors, putting the state 33rd of 50 states, according to John Green, spokesman at Gift of Life Donor Program, an organ procurement organization in Philadelphia.

The campaign's goal is to add 200,000 more donors in two years.

The campaign includes six 30-second videos featuring organ recipients and those waiting for an organ.

The videos are on www.donatelifepa.org and are being shown on video monitors at 20 driver's license centers across the state, said Robert Johnson, spokesman for Donate Life Pennsylvania. Print materials will be published in magazines and online and placed on trains and at community events and driver's license centers, according to the organization.

Nationwide, 18 people die each day while waiting for a transplant, said Misty Enos, associate director of community outreach at the Center for Organ Recovery & Education, or CORE, an organ procurement organization in O'Hara.

One challenge is to dispel myths about donations, she said, among them being that doctors won't work hard to save the life of an ill donor and that the donor or his or her estate pays the cost of harvesting the organ.

“And that's one of the big reasons why we have this Donate Life PA campaign is to educate the public,” Enos said.

In 1996, Gooden was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which enlarges and weakens the heart. His health started to decline in the late 1990s, and he went on a waiting list for a heart transplant in 2011, he said.

Getting a new heart meant that he witnessed his son's and daughter's college graduations last year and walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding this month and got married himself last June.

“That's why I think it's just so important that people understand just the type of gift that they can leave someone,” said Gooden, a Hampton High School assistant football coach.

North Catholic sophomore Antonela Kasic, 16, is a cheerleader who needs a small bowel transplant, she said. She moved with her parents from Croatia to Pittsburgh for medical care when she was 3.

At 5 foot 6 inches and 103 pounds, the Morningside resident takes an intravenous nutritional supplement five days a week while she is sleeping, she said. The treatment can cause liver failure.

She summed up the importance of organ donation in her “30 Seconds” video.

“Totally click the sign-up button because you can save my life maybe. You can save some other kid's that's waiting for one. You can save somebody's mom,” she said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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