In a year when all eyes are on the men and women running for president and the nation’s attention is fixed on topics such as building a wall and fighting terror, we tend to lose sight of topics that surpass political boundaries. Through our participation at festivals and coordinating various non-profit villages at events across the country, we have been honored to meet so many amazing people that are devoting their energy to making the world a better place and cutting through the politics. The DC HeadCount team is excited to participate in an event on April 9 that highlights one of these people and his organization.
We first met Dave Morgan when he brought his organization, RecycleLife, to Lock’n Festival in 2014. RecycleLife has been working with local communities in Northern Virginia to help raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. Many people do not think much about organ donation beyond checking the little box at the DMV. However, for Dave, the topic is much more personal. This is a topic that affects both sides of the aisle. We sat down with Dave to learn more.
HeadCount: Dave, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. We are excited to be participating in your upcoming event in April. Your story is so inspirational for people trying to make a difference. Can you tell us a little about why this topic is important to you?
Dave Morgan: Thank you for having me. The importance of organ donation was never really something I ever thought about until the day I was told by my physician that I will need a heart and liver transplant. A few months prior to that I had been experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the ankles, pretty much all the symptoms associated with a heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Since my transplant in 2009, I have seen many people who get on a transplant list and wait so long, that unfortunately time ends up running out for them. I consider myself very fortunate to have been given a second chance at life and thank my donor and their family every day.
HC: How did you go about forming a non-profit to help others in need and bring more awareness to the topic?
DM: The thought of starting a nonprofit happened right after my brother Juan was told in May of 2013 that he also needed the same transplant as I had back in 2009. Juan was experiencing the same symptoms, and lucky for him and the doctors, they had me to learn from -- our conditions were exactly the same. But even going through the whole process over again, this time as a caregiver for my brother, I really got to see firsthand how important it is to not only be an organ donor, but to also help those families who do not have a support group and cannot afford the proper medication needed after transplant and may not be covered by their insurance. That is where RecycleLife steps in; we not only provide monetary assistance to transplant patients, we also help with consoling their families while they are in the hospital, just to let them know they can get through the difficult time of transplant just by looking and talking to my brother and me.
HC: What can you tell me about the upcoming event on April 9? How will it help the organization?
DM: Well the purpose for having this event in April, aside from the month of April being “Organ Donation Awareness Month,” is to not only bring awareness to the DC metro area, but to also raise enough money to help many families around our community who need assistance with the difficult time of the transplant process and to provide a safe and comfortable location close to the hospital for their families to stay, in order for them to be close. Our long term goal is to one day open a transplant house here in the area close to our local hospitals so that families and patients can stay for a reasonable price and have all the amenities as if they were at their own house.
HC: Are there any last thoughts you would like to leave folks with who are on the fence about organ donation?
DM: It's unavoidable that we will no longer walk on this earth forever (despite all the rise in zombie movies and TV shows). If you could save up to one life through the gift of organ and tissue donation, why not? In fact, one organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance up to 50 more. Those lives saved have names. They are children; they are sisters and brothers. They are parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents. They are teachers, firefighters, business owners. They laugh and love. They feel pain and guilt and sorrow. No one wants to be on the waiting list. They certainly hope all of the rest of us understand that too.