Giving the gift of life


The Voice

BURLEY – Heart disease affects millions of people each year according to the American Heart Association and for one Burley woman it really hit her in the heart.

Janiece Burgess, 50, Burley, recently celebrated one year with a new heart due to congestive heart failure and urges everyone to become an organ donor.

Five years ago Burgess had her first heart attack and found out how bad her heart really was. She was
placed on the heart transplant list 4 years later.

When Burgess was put on the transplant list she had to leave family and friends and move within an hour and a half radius of Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, just in case a heart became available.

Then the day came for the long awaited organ that would keep her alive. She received her new heart on May 14, 2010, her chance for survival unfortunately came at the cost of another’s life.

Janiece and Kirk

“If it had not have been for the person or their family to donate the organs I would not be alive today,’ said Burgess. “Idaho has such a low donor list, I just wish more people would consider being donors. I can’t stress enough the importance of being a donor.”

“The young adult whose heart I received was the most precious gift I could have gotten,’ she said. “That person is truly my hero.”

Although Burgess may never know the true circumstances of how the young adult died or who that person is ever, she has written a letter to the family of the deceased thanking them for the love, care, and compassion when she received the heart of their loved one.

Organ donation is quite simple for the person whose organs they themselves want to donate, it as easy as checking the yes box when you go to get your driver’s license. Making sure your family, friends and physician know your intentions of being a donor is another way to let everyone know your intentions.

All people are potential organ donors irrespective of their age. Only they must let their family know that they wish to become a donor or check the yes box on organ donation when they go to renew their divers license.

After their death, every patient and every organ are assessed individually. If it is found that the organ is healthy and functioning normally, then donation is certainly possible.

Organs can be obtained from young donors as well as from adults in their 90s according to the National Donor Network. Thus, the patient’s medical history is more significant than the age. If active cancer, active HIV or active infections are present, then donation has to be canceled. In case of Hepatitis, some detailed data is essential at the time of death. Those having Hepatitis B or C may donate organs to patients afflicted with the same.

It is quite practical for a living person to donate a kidney or a part of the liver, lung or pancreas. Such living donations are managed by individual transplant centers where the recipient is present.

There are over 2,275 heart transplants done in the United States each year, as of this date there is 3,180 people in the United States in need of a heart transplant.

“I just want to really get more people to donate organs as its means so much to so many people, “said

2 Comments on "Giving the gift of life"

  1. David J Undis August 4, 2011 at 8:46 am ·

    Janiece Burgess was very lucky to get a Heart transplant. There are now over 110,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

    There is another good way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – if you don’t agree to donate your organs when you die, then you go to the back of the waiting list if you ever need an organ to live.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 50% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven’t agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,700 members, including 61 members in Idaho.

    Please contact me – Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers – if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you’re interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

  2. janiece November 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm ·

    Thanks for the comment and the information.

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