Making Life Happen with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA)

About This Episode

Founded in April 1988, LOPA is the federally designated, not-for-profit organ and tissue recovery agency for the state of Louisiana. LOPA also manages the Louisiana Donor Registry, a database of individuals who have expressed their decision to become organ, tissue, and eye donors. Jim Chapman of Local Leaders the podcast sits down with LOPA’s own Lori Steele and Jessica Puissegur who shares her brother’s HERO story of organ donation. You do not want to miss this episode!

Transcript (Beta)

hey y’all it’s woody overton host of real life real crime the podcast and you’re listening to local leaders the podcast hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of local leaders the podcast i’m jim yes i love it that’s enthusiasm already is what i call that so i’ve got miss laurie steele here she represents lopa and miss jessica persigue got it did i do that you got it last name is tricky we normally call her reese witherspoon yeah whatever you want

anyway uh her brother is a hero and we’re going to have a conversation kind of discuss her story as well uh hopefully we’ll familiarize a lot of the listeners and viewers who may not be familiar with lopa exactly what they do in an organ donation so uh with that i want to bring up that november is i donation month for lobo yes that’s right and um we actually have a podcast the gifted life yes um so every day we try to just talk about stories get people talking about donation talking positively about it getting to know it so you inviting us on here was very special her story is inspiring so we love that and so our goal is to just get people thinking about it talking about it hopefully taking action and becoming a donor you can do that anytime registerme.org 100 speaking of stories i do want to share one real quick um this is an interesting story of my experience with organ donation and eye donation in particular so it’s kind of comical but my wife uh many years ago i think we were married like maybe a year she uh mentioned to me that she wanted to donate organs now i was young at that time and like most young people i’m like you’re not doing that and she’s like oh yeah i wanna i wanna do that and i said what are you gonna donate and she said my eyes now my wife’s eyes are not the best eyes in the world she wears like bifocals okay she’s gonna kill me for saying that but she does she was she she doesn’t have the best eyes and i’m like nobody wants your eyes wendy and uh she’s like oh no they can still use them and so i guess before we go any further what happens if someone wears glasses or something like that can they still donate their eyes yes absolutely you can give sight to someone else and actually we had a donor family and the mom said if the recipient can see the world the way my baby saw the world it would be a beautiful place yes so it’s just amazing so yeah according to donation is something that that you can do and be a part of and it’s a beautiful experience and that’s what we celebrate this month well i just learned two things one i was wrong again and my wife was right which is never that’s always the case i know a mutual friend woody overton like

and the second thing is you know she brought up that same point well if you can’t see at all you’d love to see with glasses yeah and then you know we talk about organ donation and tissue donation with organ donation we say it’s life-saving with tissue donation we say it’s life enhancing but our folks who have had these cornea transplants say it really did change my life and save my life because i got my independence back i could drive some people couldn’t see the lights when they’re driving or they couldn’t go grocery shopping for themselves or be independent and thanks to somebody saying yes they’re able to do all of those things and more which is is pretty spectacular awesome what a beautiful thing and now miss jessica i’m going to turn to you um when you’re not acting on swing home alabama i wish

what do you do what do you do for 11. i am an instructional coach at south fork elementary in um denim springs she’s the best oh thanks and how long have you known miss laurie over here oh i guess now for about three years wow a good little while pretty cool she is phenomenal she’s been definitely like such a supporter for me too it’s i really appreciate her and her friendship oh very nice yeah she’s great her at all like i don’t even know she was going to say that right right and i would i would concur but then i don’t want it to look like i’m over complimentary there you go it’s a long story that we were talking about before the show uh you have actually a beautiful story that we’d like you to share with regard to your brother and uh he is what you call a hero um so tell us all about that okay well my brother allen um i guess it’s been yep three years ago uh he committed suicide it was a very tragic like extremely hard time for my family as you could probably understand um you know he was a very happy person on the outside mostly and um he loved to do most things that most people in livingston parish like to do fish hunt he was always outside he has a little boy named braelyn and um you know just we’ve always been kind of a close family we are all on little family land so um it was a tough time and the um only bright light that kind of came from that was organ donation at that time you know um so i was very naive and uh didn’t really know a whole lot about lopa i actually when they um i remember them coming in to talk to us at the hospital and introducing themselves and it was like a lopa representative and wanted to like sit and talk to our family and see because allen was a registered organ donor and you know but they just wanted to kind of talk to us also and see how we felt about that and you know my parents and i both agreed that you know that would be you know something positive that could come out of all of this and it definitely was he did donate his organs he was able to they were able to recover four of his organs um his liver his two kidneys and his heart yeah so that was um you know like i said that was the brightness in a lot of darkness and brought us a lot of peace from all of the heartache that we were going through at that time and you know we still do and just looking back and being able to promote organ donation has been like a positive thing for our family you know because alan was a hero and even though you know he struggled with different things you know who he really was in the end like came out because of organ donation so wow that’s a beautiful thing and um what a what a uh positive outcome in the end for his organs to to go on to uh extend other people’s lives yeah we talk about this legacy so his son can see his legacy continue and those four people that he saved they will never forget him right that’s his legacy yeah and then his story continues which is very beautiful have you guys reached out to the families yeah so actually his heart recipient um sent us a letter and i was at first was you know i know different families have different you know it’s hard for some people to reach out and well i wanted to know like i’ve always kind of you know been had that curiosity and i would love to meet all of them one day um his heart recipient long story short sorry i was rambling but um she reached out to us and it was kind of like a you know because of confidentiality and privacy laws and things like that a lot of things we didn’t really know it was just kind of a generic letter her thanking us well since then um we have made a connection and do know who his heart recipient is and we are in contact like every week um talking to her yes she actually lives in chicago so um what a beautiful thing yeah and she is just so such a lovely person like she really is and she’s been you know supportive of our family and always asking how we are doing and so that’s been a good thing for us the heart i can see that donating the heart really really got to you and um and it’s important that people realize that one donor can save eight lives right yeah it’s an incredible um process and a lot of our recipients say you know how do you say thank you for this gift of life like when she wrote and they wrote wrote back a lot of our recipients say it’s hard because you have a letter and what do you put in writing that’s really going to come across to these donor families to say thank you um and then in this case and that’s why we try to educate and get more hearts on those licenses most people will sign up at the office of motor vehicles 98 of people will say yes we have 2.5 million in louisiana that have said yes that’s because we focus on education and other states they’re trying to say you’re an organ donor whether you like it or not so we’re trying not to push to that legislation right the south southern hospitality kindness and so you can see that and it is a gift and we want to keep it that way um so they knew that alan had said yes to organ donation and he wanted to help save lives and that conversation gets easier um if a tragedy happens in some way shape or form like you know that we’re supporting that decision and we’re making life happen and it’s a beautiful process that we can build upon since being involved with lopa and volunteering um i realized like how many just different misconceptions people have about donation and how many like um just untrue things that are out there yes yeah and a lot of it comes you know from all different places but you know movies everything it’s just there was this one show a thousand ways to die and that summer was like the worst summer because every driver’s ed student saw that show yeah and it was just a lot of untruths about organ donation so our whole summer was spent just trying to correct those but we saw how powerful just like one show uh could be yes one message so 100 and i was telling miss lori before you got here that i learned so much just in the little bit of research that i did right you know i’m kind of a research guy when it comes to these podcasts and i want to know as much as i can yes yes do you have a heart on your license to be asking do i have a what a heart on your license no not yet but we’re going to discuss that today yes okay

my wife couldn’t believe it because my wife is an organ donor and um and you know back in the day way back in the day do you remember all the back your license you could just write what you wanted to donate and sign it remember those days um she initially did yeah yeah i’m old i’m i’m old i ain’t got no hair it’s crazy but um she did that way back then and then officially registered after that yeah um but even then she was telling me you know you need to to do this and i wanted to talk about that because here’s the you know it’s a kind of a morbid subject i guess or or taboo subject nobody wants to talk about that right right um that being said there are a lot of misconceptions and i had people my fans send me questions and listeners uh send me questions that they would like me to ask and there were a few of them that i maybe i knew the answer to but i realized wow these these are misconceptions and i’m just going to give you one just right off the bat okay when you donate your organs does that mean you cannot have an open casket at your funeral so that’s a myth that i think you and i had actually corrected when we went to talk to an ahec medically minded group um but you can have an open casket funeral um and so if they recover organs they make a medical a surgical incision um those are typically covered by clothing if we recover bone prosthetics are put in but you can have an open casket funeral it may be delayed a bit but those families who work with us we’ve had no no push back from that did you actually my brother’s services his hit was an open casket service yeah um you know and which was like i don’t think that people were expecting that but they and there’s so many myths and misconceptions and yes you know there really are and uh you mentioned that you volunteer for lopa now yes i do and i would imagine all of this lead traumatic experience yeah and i will tell you i was a little uneducated before all of this happened and i was like what is lupa yeah sorry no no well it used to be you’re not the only one yeah no idea and so when i had a friend say well is lopa the one that you’re working with and i was like i don’t even know but they’re wonderful whoever they are they’ve made this process so so easy and like i don’t know just the peace that came from knowing that something good was coming out of something so negative um for our family i think that’s what really got us through you know along with the prayers and everyone’s support but and you’re coming into your own because it wasn’t comfortable to talk about suicide right yes donation yeah leaving kids behind uh so to see where you are today that you accepted to come on a podcast talk to this guy yes she said thank you mother would be very thank you as well uh but back in the day we talk about donate life because the the theory was you know people would understand that donate life in the hospitals is when you’d hear about lopez so if you were going to be a nurse or if you were dealt with organ donation in some way if there was some tragedy you found yourself in the hospital setting then you hear about lopa so now the mindset has changed to where we want everyone to learn about lopa and the only organ recovery agency in the state of louisiana that has the gold seal of approval from the government we know what we’re doing and we’re making life happen so um so you’ll see that change now and you’ll hear it more so i’m proud that you know lopalopa.org is where you can go to get uh any kind of information that you like you can also register which is you know if we can get that on camera we can get them registering today but we love when people sign up and increase the registry because we know how it impacts so many people’s lives so that’s kind of neat that you took the time to research that’s what we say make an educated decision like learn and then um if you have any questions ask someone who’s been impacted not just me um who’s who’s like a face but somebody who’s actually like gone through it um and ask your questions and so that’s what we do we bring them to rooms and we let kids maybe have questions about suicide or they have questions about death or did you talk about this did you know what an organ donor was right and and just let them ask their questions get their curiosities out of the way yes i mean and that has like i said probably five times now has just brought my family so much peace being able to educate other people about not only organ donation but suicide mental illness um you know being it’s okay not to be okay and that’s what i take from you like when after we leave it’s okay not to be okay when i see that i think about your brother like i think that’s part of his legacy like you helping other people through so many of life’s tragedies i hope so that’s true um yeah but i don’t know i just can’t say enough great things about i don’t know even volunteering it just gives you know that peace that i can maybe help somebody else understand because i didn’t understand three years ago and it’s a legacy to your brother as well you know it uh i want to mention how you got involved with lopez and i found that interesting uh found it online so i hope it’s actually

so you were in the media world i was yeah so um i lost my mom uh when i was 17. so three weeks after i graduated from high school like really rocked my world right but what i told her was i wanted to be on tv i was going to work at our local tv station um and everybody thought that was so funny because i was deathly shy like i would hives right i couldn’t breathe i can’t imagine that i can’t either i was like don’t look at me i’m going to hide here and those types of things but i went to school i had this heavy accent i was from doosan louisiana yes i had a cajun accent um so if you go to dinner or something have a couple of drinks you’ll probably hear

because i made that promise uh to my mom uh all those years ago and so i went to school i was the first to graduate you know from college doing what i told her i was gonna do so i was pretty proud of myself so i started working and then i got to sign this story about a celebration of life and um so i go out and i’m trying to be this reporter because i did all this studying you know and all of this and not supposed to get emotionally involved going there for some facts right and so when i go out it’s this mom who’s just missing her her kid he fell into the back of a pickup truck he hit his head he died of brain death which back in 1997 we didn’t know what that was like what is that scary to talk about and um so i go out to this story and i’m missing my mom she’s missing her kid and we just embraced right like i feel like i filled something for her she filled something for me in our in our hearts and i just learned about her son justin and she said i just want people to forget him like he’s a hero he saved all of these lives through donation at a time when we weren’t talking about donation like we’re talking about it now so um before i left i signed up to be a donor i remember i was crying i wore a lot of makeup and more than now and uh so my mascara i remember because she used to do paper sheets now everything’s you know technology so it was a white sheet saying that she wanted to be a donor and i said after experiencing this just the goodness of heat like i want to keep this feeling i signed up and i remember my paper was tear stained uh my mascara was all over the paper but i signed up that day and then i went to work and i would i would get promoted like you know normal normal work so i got to be on the morning show which was three hours of just chit chatting which my family thought was funny because it was like this girl who never talked now before i was doing the show so miss libby would come in and i knew her daughter we used to play ball and things like that and so she she’d come and she said i’m just gonna sit here and if you have any time over the next three hours i’d like to talk about donation and i’ll just sit so then she started bringing like kolaches and like it was it was a thing she just come in and she just want to sit and she wasn’t working for lopa she lost her kid he was an organ donor and she just wanted people to know about that and i thought wow like got my attention filled my heart like we just wanna inspire so she started coming on being part of the show and she just said i just want you to think about being an organ donor a lot of people don’t talk about it my son’s a hero he saved these lives and as she’d learn more we’d learn more about the story and i just thought that is super awesome so i said if i ever leave news which i never thought i would leave ever left news like i wanna i wanna be in this organization doing these things with these people because it was so good and um then i started having children and i was like news isn’t much fun like i want to be a mom because i lost my mom and i want to be the best mom i could be yeah and uh so then i started you know i was crying i was praying about it and i was like i’m not sure where i’m supposed to be i’m just not sure this is where i’m supposed to be with with news and um libby popped up my friend susanna i worked with her husband and they said you ever thought about leaving the news there’s an opening and i was like what yeah what is this where i’m supposed to be and that’s where i am and that’s what i’ve been doing since then yeah it was such a good cause and so we started out as friends but i think we’re like we’re family like we just chit chat and talk and we learn about each other’s lives and we we champion our children when your children dress up for dress-up that’s the best um but you know you just meet these people who just want to lift you up like we’ve been through such terrible times together and we raise each other up together and it’s just an amazing thing and something that i want to be a part of and i hope others want to be a part of as well i hope that’s what we we put out there because we completely put stats and stuff out there but i love stories and real life stories and then you ask what you want to ask like some of our recipients like do you want to know about what medication they’re on do you know if they have a scar uh do you want to know if they have a setting at their table for thanksgiving for their for their donor like ask those questions because i really want you to know before you make a decision yes or no because you’re going to get it at the omv you’re going to get it when you go to get renew your license or anything like that are you going to do it so my kids grew up with it so my little ones if you don’t have a heart like if she would have come in here today and said you don’t have a hard on your license what why not it’s such a good thing all right so um so anyways it’s just uh a part of my life that’s inspiring um where you can do good you can do good it’s a beautiful thing and and i’ll tell you your question i believe yes i took you on a ride yes it did i love it and you know but i believe that god puts you just where you’re supposed to be at some point in your life and it’s kind of undeniable and i believe you’re right where you need to be and where you should be and where you’re meant to be and all those sorts of things to have you is is such a gift even for them um you have a very special gift uh and i’ll tell you you brought up the point earlier you said you know i didn’t really know what local was clueless you didn’t come into your life right so she’s from livingston parish and the more people that know kind of what we do we hear these stories and people you would have no idea have been impacted by donations in the same way shape or form and so we just hadn’t had that conversation yeah so many of my friends even had no idea and so it’s been good like i feel like you know truly alan was a hero not only for you know his selfless gift of donation and saving those four lives but how many other lies is he saving because of you know being able to reach out you just hit the nail on the head that’s exactly right his story and the impact that it’s having way beyond his donations is huge the the people that hear that story now will want to become donors possibly um and that may be countless people that may be hundreds of people that he impacted uh and that i think is is something that you can’t really put a number on well and then the recipients not even in this state right correct and so heart recipients yeah so just the the impact we um have a girl that i i work with and uh her brother donated to someone in japan they couldn’t even speak the same language but the feeling that they had about donation about that hero was incredible so you just don’t imagine the impact and then just with you like with the donation part of your story which is incredible but also talking about suicide like i was so scared i had to go to to a conference and they said we just want you to be comfortable asking about suicide are you comfortable saying no i’m i’m not um but i’ve learned how to be more comfortable listening to you and talking about it’s okay not to be okay but that’s part of his story it is it’s a huge part of his story and i think that so many more people um are afraid because like you said um a long time ago not saying like a long time ago you were older and yeah

you know there’s always been kind of like a taboo around like you don’t talk about um mental illness yes mental illness you don’t talk about you there are so many people impacted by you know some degree of mental illness and i just try to promote that you know your mental health is just important as your physical health and you know that’s kind of been a another thing i’m trying to help promote with and you know i’ve had several people come to me after we’ve done different things together volunteering and come up to me and say thank you so much i never felt like i could really talk to anybody about it yes and you just like you really helped me to get a better understanding and feel more comfortable about like i’m not the only one like this is a normal person you know yeah so and you’re giving back and that’s what leaders do you’ve learned that a lot earlier in life than me and that is a huge impact that’s what leaders do uh you cannot show me a person that’s a leader that doesn’t give back i mean it’s it’s an important aspect to your life and it affects you here

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and i wanna bring up you brought up earlier um you weren’t very familiar with lopa and um so let’s talk what do you over tim for a second and i know you’re a lesson in woody yes he is a legend and and uh i’ll tell you how i i came to know i knew very vaguely of lopa uh meaning i had heard the name and i was kind of familiar with organ donation but it was a fleeting thought right um woody everton started talking about lopa on his show and when you listen to woody’s show he mentions it every single episode now woody is a special figure because woody is global he’s not just in the united states he’s all over the world and very successful um and woody when he when he but just humble dude oh he’s stupid so you see this personality but just a good guy yeah yeah his wife like just good good humans i like to say good humans good old good old country boy as i say um and he is very much so but the amazing thing is um every episode he will mention lopa and he will do something where he says if you’re in and then there’s like a 30-second pause because he can never think of a place and then he’s like egypt i laugh every time because it takes him so long to come up with that egypt uh don’t you know go to the website lopa.org and uh and read about it you know give the gift of life all those sorts of things um how important has woody everton been to your mission oh it’s been so great but you talk about these people that are put into your life so um i also support sheriff jason arden yes that’s how i met woody yes and then i work with kelly jennings who’s in the livingston parish school system an amazing woman who lifts other women up um and so she would work with sheriff jason r because she teaches criminal justice right so all these people coming together and then she said i’d like to do a live podcast at my school and i’m like well i do a podcast i’m gonna check it out or whatever um and then woody started hearing about lopa because she was um an advocate for donation the sheriff was an advocate for donation it was just something we talked about because you know we should be talking about these absolutely outside of what we do and he said i like it i’m gonna start this is we’re gonna start learning about it and doing something about it and i was like oh my gosh how amazing right he says i’m gonna talk about it on my podcast well we do a podcast it’s called the gifted life so any podcasters out there you’re into that um if you want to check it out um it’s a great podcast by the way thank you thank you and so but you know we’re just just about organ donation and um so we have a specific audience right who tunes in for that i hope you tune in i do too now i think she was featured on there one time i’m going back and listening to that episode um and then he came on and he listened to the story um of a student that was in kelly jennings class she was in a wreck on interstate 12 made the news and her baby became a hero an organ donor and he said it just touched his heart and he said that’s he said i was looking for a cause this is it and he said i’m going to start doing it so then we started seeing people posting our lopa vans you know they would take pictures post it they would share their stories about it so in all of those facebook groups that he has that have tens of thousands of people in there started talking about it sharing their stories um some of it was hard because some of it was from the donor side um and some people were just having a hard time doing that the people that were impacted were helping them yeah so it was like this group of people that were brought together because of woody and this you know real-life real crime podcast but then they were talking about other things that mattered and helping each other in a different way it was people that you wouldn’t think would talk about donation yeah talking about it actively engaging about it some were going to the registry to sign up people know what lopez they recognize it i mean he has millions of downloads there’s tens of thousands of people who follow him and um and he gives back to lopa because he wants the education to continue it’s a beautiful thing just people wanting to do the right thing and help others so 100 and and this kind of circles me back to the point you made earlier which is it’s almost like a net it’s almost like networking in a way you want as many people as possible to know about this this beautiful non-profit and uh i’ll tell you how it works when you’re like a woody overton and you tell somebody and they tell somebody uh woody and i have an unbelievable relationship we talk very often um and i heard him mention that he was doing a like a giveaway him and captain calvin duvall devos caving cajun charters who has his own hero story yes um with his mother his mother got an extra five years of life out of an organ donation from someone and and he’s very public about that and wanted to get involved and him and woody uh we’re gonna raise some money for for lopa uh and increase the registry and increase awareness like that was that was where we started like we’re just going to get these people thinking about it yeah about it and then we got a little bit extra i think it’s like you know say karma like you’re going to do a good thing and then other good things happen it was just amazing that’s right he they got on board i heard about this got wind of it and i said hey wait a minute i’ve got an audience too and how can i help you this is a beautiful thing so here’s the the point i’m getting to with that you talked about it touching people’s hearts so i i said hey here’s what i’m going to do i’m going to get the biggest yeti cooler you can buy and i’m going to give it away i’m going to give it away we’re going to sell tickets yeah he was serious so i hear something in the background i’m sitting here i’m talking to woody and i hear in the background i want to do it too and i turn around and she’s off camera right now but tiffany c card who executive produces this podcast uh felt it call it i felt a calling on her heart that she just barks out i want to give out a cooler too and and uh so we both look and what he’s like mary this is awesome you know it talks this is just awesome what i’m watching

yes you get a cooler you get it

but you know we all banded together as as people and podcasters who just believed in this we we went to who we knew and said hey can you can you sell tickets out of your store for us and beauty bar nutrition was nice enough to allow uh that to be kind of a drop-off point and pick up point for money and and uh so definitely want to mention them but at the end of the day we raised a lot of money for lopa through just awareness during a pandemic during a pandemic in a short amount of time it was only like a few weeks that we put this together and uh but it shows you the power of awareness and people just knowing and believing in what you’re doing and and when you have passionate about that and you’re talking to someone and that passion is coming out they just want to help just like tiffany did she just felt it and she jumped at the chance and of course she’s given anyway but uh yeah it was a beautiful thing so we met up at the texas club for a crew crew bash real life real crime they were having this huge party but then they paused to honor our heroes to talk about donation and to do this check so i saw i think we met on stage in person yeah cute little time so he was my favorite and then we had duval who was up there and then he was just crying he said i can’t believe that i was part of this this good thing for donation kelly jake kelly jennings came that night to cheer us on we were in the in the audience and uh it was just a beautiful thing but it was just good good humans coming together good things um and that felt so good so thank you very much um i was like i said i was watching from home and i was like i’m like do y’all what is happening this is so amazing um but it was like the more people that learned about it said let me be a part of it and how great is that to help honor these heroes and to celebrate the lives that we’re saving yes a hundred percent and uh so shout out woody everton i know you’re listening we need to put those pictures back up because there was one i was like i was so shocked i can’t remember that then my husband was like did you have fun up there i was like with me and i was like i had no idea any of that was going to happen i was like but i just love everybody that was up there yeah that’s great it was a good time so does lopa do do you accept organ donors outside of the state of louisiana or is it just inside the state so each state has a donor registry and so we encourage you to sign up in that state so a lot of kids that come here for college if you’re going to be here for more than six months we say join our louisiana registry but when we started i said registerme.org that’s the national registry so no matter where you live you can sign up to be a donor and that’s important but the most important is talking to your family about donation and your wishes um because if something were to happen to you in a hospital setting we’d have to talk to your wife yeah does she know what you would want to do that’s another decision so that’s a great point you’ve already talked about it then we can move forward so they knew that alan right and i just want to add on to that too um you know that was a big thing uh that i didn’t realize how big of a deal this was like but whenever they came to whenever the representative came to us and asked us you know and told us alan had the heart i didn’t i had no idea that he did i didn’t know he was a registered organ donor but it made that decision easier for us as a family knowing that you know this was part of his wish to give back to if abel um and you know that just kind of helps solidify that so i just want to add on to that i think that having those conversations which i knew now my girls i have a an 11 year old and a four-year-old and the four-year-old knows about organ donation and just being able to talk about that and how uncle allen is a hero because of you know order donations so we have donor moms and they said it was a 10 second call she goes my daughter was in line at the omv they asked her about organ donation what is it she goes you can’t take it with you when you go and she goes okay and then she got into a crash a couple weeks later but she said we had that conversation and she goes well yeah why wouldn’t you do that and became a hero so those conversations are so so important it is important 100 and um to tell you how important it is i’m just going to lay out some stats some things that people may not realize liking you more and more very impressive so right now currently there are 106

840 people on the national transplant waiting list how many people fit in tiger stadium 100 and two in two yeah so completely filled tiger stadium plus those tailgaters that’s how many people are waiting your mind around that listeners that um that is why it’s so important to to get this out there you know the the subject is is uh something that we all just need to get over and you need to talk to your family and you need to say uh you know god forbid if something were to happen we need to talk about this because of stories like what you just told right right um 17 people die each day waiting on an organ transplant so when we talk to a class we say that like this whole class wiped out because not enough people talked about it or wanted to know about it um and that’s pretty uh staggering statistic it is it is eye opening uh to say the least 39 000 transplants were done in 2020 um and every nine minutes even during covid even during covet that’s a good point yeah they were breaking so you know things changed with with covid so then you had to be like 20 days out from from a test or 21 days out and then with the science and you know they’re constantly trying to learn more but we were able to continue to do donations during a pandemic and one of the reasons is because we have a donor care center in louisiana it’s one of nine across the country so uh when it comes to donation educating about donation uh louisiana is at the top of a good list you don’t usually hear that right roads were like those kinds of things because of people like jessica you woody uh kelly like all of these people are getting the word so just the fact that you reached out and said can we talk about lopa like to me that’s a win and we appreciate you yeah it’s it’s totally my honor it really is um every nine minutes someone is added to the transplant list every nine minutes so some of our closest friends they were 72 hours away from death or 24 hours away from death and i love hanging out with them because they put a new spin on life right because i’m in traffic and i’m like and they’re just like i’m gonna sing i’m gonna do things like they just see life so differently because they almost lost it yeah and then someone completely anonymous stepped up and did something so kind so you know thanksgiving christmas time you know all this stuff this is the good stuff yeah it really is um is there an age in which you are too old to donate your organs so you saw one of our uh there was a story in the news was 95. so really it’s um just the condition that you’re in at the time of your your death so we say don’t rule yourself out so the doctors are going to have to do these tests to make sure that your organs are functioning we don’t want to recover one gift that’s not going to last in someone else so um so you could be the exception every case is different there’s no like mold that you fit in um so i’m an organ donor absolutely yeah and so um you know no matter when i die and i’m hoping we’re not talking about that for a long time because i still have children to raise right i want to be there for my family um but i do want to help and i want to help in as many ways as possible so like you said one organ donor can save up to eight lives i can also donate tissue up to 50 plus and i can give sight to two and i would just love to be a part of that if i can 100 um let me ask you you know all the things we’ve talked about the it must be extremely expensive to donate your organs right so there’s no cost for donations low cost so some of those no costs movies and things like that you would think so we don’t buy or sell organs or anything like that uh so as far as the donor family you’ll pay for the medical care and all those life-saving treatments uh when everything um when they have tried everything the donation is an option and so most insurances will cover that mine will if i have to have a transplant or something like that um but you don’t pay for the organ but um we do have to pay for the surgeons who know what they’re doing absolutely so all of those things but you don’t pay for the organ itself you know makes for good movie titles sometime but we actually created a donate life hollywood to actually work with producers and things to maybe get those organ donation stories more right yes you know there was a hangout two hearts yes great example if you all guys want to check that out two hearts i’ll link it i’ll link it to this uh yeah i’ll link it to the description i’ll link that where they can at least look at the trailer or whatever and and uh maybe that will help now let’s say somebody says um i’m already an organ donor but i still want to help i want to do other things to help lopa how would they go about if they want to you know monetarily donate money or they want uh they want to volunteer all those sorts of things how would they go about doing that so lopa.org is your one-stop shop uh what we love is like someone like you that’s like a business person that says oh we’re having a lunch and learn and in the middle of our lunch and learn we want to learn about something outside of what we do so we’d like for you to come in bring a speaker maybe and talk about donation for 15 minutes or 20 minutes or something like that um so you can request a speaker you can become a volunteer some people aren’t comfortable speaking she said she wasn’t comfortable speaking but yet here we are so we work with you

you took the bull by the horn um and and uh we do those things we have a foundation so we’re building a donor memorial park where folks can come and honor their heroes and celebrate life so there’s lots of options for you if you want to come and help learn more about it our goal is to get you thinking about donation talking about donation and um hopefully saying yes to organ donation when you go to get your your driver’s license fantastic now how how do you decide who gets these organs um is it just a list and you kind of go in order is it so um so younos.org unos.org if you’re curious about it um but they have all the patients listed so would just have like your height and your weight and your blood type and those kinds of things so no name attached a lot of people have misconceptions if i have a lot of money uh it’s science right so there has to be a match so in louisiana that’s why we try to focus on the louisiana registry and try to boost it up as much as possible so in louisiana we have half the population registered we’re trying to reach the other population which is where you and woody and kelly all those folks come in getting people talking about donation that normally wouldn’t talk about it right so we’re trying to get that up because we try to match here at home first and if we can’t match here at home there’s no match for for you then we try to go outside in the region so with kidneys we can put them on a pump and they can travel a little bit faster or a little bit longer um but sometimes like for a heart you only have four to six hours to move and to get it done yeah so um there’s lots of things in place you can go and learn more about it so we live it every day and we are so comfortable with the process um but if you have questions you know ask somebody uh came up and said i saw something in a movie one time like we like let’s talk about it let’s talk about it um because we all have a story about donation that touched our lives and we just want you to learn the facts and um i don’t like to pressure people into anything like i would be a horrible salesperson you seem like you’re great like you know you just have that personality but i was like oh no pressure no pressure but but please learn and make an educated decision is what we ask yeah and pay attention to the facts john adams once said that facts are a stubborn thing

how y’all like that i’m quoting john adams in here now i’m really old that’s i was thinking that abraham lincoln like don’t believe everything you read on the internet

he would definitely say that there’s no doubt about it now um one thing that we’re going to do here on our show local leaders of podcast is we’re gonna start mentioning it like what he does i think it’s an important thing uh look if one person becomes a donor because i said something on here i love it i mean that makes it more than worth it to me i believe in this non-profit and that’s important um you know there’s two or three non-profits that uh that i support nationally you know st jude is one just a beautiful charity and you know right where that money’s going and i’ve toured that facility and this is no different uh and it’s local you know i feel like it’s got that local feel which gels with my audience so uh woody’s done such a great job on his show with doing that and so i think it’s a great idea whatever we can do what a gift and every time we we get like a win like that just people learning about it or talking about it with the audiences that you guys bring to the table uh we kind of do a little jig like yes it’s working um and you know she does it in honor of allen and then we have so many um so many heroes that we try to champion and try to continue telling their story and justin we’ve been telling justin’s story uh since the the 1990s which sounds like a long time you know but it’s 20 21 yeah um but their legacy lives on and the lives that are saved is just incredible 100 thank you both for coming on and i do want to mention uh if you want more information lopa.org is the place to go the one-stop shop but you also have a podcast and that is titled the gifted life the gifted life yeah so um we hope that you you download those podcasts subscribe do all those fun things that you do with the podcast but um you know we have we had a real housewife that was tied to um donation a real housewife of uh new york yeah heather thompson thompson if you watch uh reality tv but um so she has this big persona and then she came on and she was just crying talking about her baby and she goes i apologize for crying and i was like i mean i like i was a fan before but i’m really a fan because this is real yeah and then she got removable enough to talk to us you know about her her kid um and so we just talked to people across the country we had a lady call in she because i was just thinking about doing something nice and i wanted to donate a kidney and i’m like whoa and she said i couldn’t find any information so i looked up the gifted life podcast and i started listening about living donation and so i just want to let you know that i just donated a kidney anonymously what and so she goes i’m fine um and she goes but i feel so good and if i could do it again i would and i thought wow because i’m trying to get up to that level like i’m learning from everybody and getting this inspiration from everybody but i was like man that was a bold move yeah and just a great one that really just lit my fire oh yeah yeah wow yeah it really it really is so the gifted life check it out gift of life check it out and i’ll link that to this podcast as well so they can just click that link go straight there um you did phenomenal great job thank you again you can be a co-host maybe one day you’re already ready to go

thank you for sharing your brother’s story i appreciate you letting me share because you know that’s like i said it’s what spring brings us peace and helping others help themselves and other people yeah and i think it helps to we hear from a lot of families just sharing that story or having somebody who really truly wants to listen and i think that’s what your gift is on this podcast like you’re genuinely interested in the topic yes and you do want to know and you do want to help others learn so we certainly appreciate that thank you very much uh i appreciate you both coming on anytime you want to come and talk about lopez we love it yeah yeah just uh reach out to tiffany or me and we’ll uh i’ll be bugging tiffany it’s gonna be a weekly thing uh so thank you very much and uh i do want to thank all the listeners out there that listen to local leaders the podcast please continue to like comment subscribe if you like the comment and uh thank you to all my sponsors we could not do any of this without all of them that’s a hundred percent fact and until next time i’m jim chapman reminding you love your community support local business and non-profits just like lopa and keep leaving thank you very much you

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