Organ transplant conference educates health workers

Cassie underwent a transplant at 22 months of age.
Cassie underwent a transplant at 22 months of age.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Cassie Barnby is a smart, pretty, 15 year old who underwent a transplant when she was just 22 months old. "I had a liver transplant because I had a rare disease called Tyrosinemia Type 1, which effects both the liver and the kidney," she said.

Although on anti-rejection drugs, she says there is still a chance she will need more surgery. "If my kidneys do start failing I might have to get a kidney transplant," Cassie said.

She says her parents worry about her immune system.  "Is there a disease going around? Strep? Chicken Pox?"

It's recipients like Cassie the Alabama Organ Center is trying to help with conferences like one, recently, at the Dowdle Center in Huntsville.

Health care workers are here to learn about organ donation and current industry practices.

Ann Rayburn is the senior manager of professional education at the Alabama Organ Center. "We still have this incredible need that I don't think we ever anticipated when transplantation started. We have over 120-thousand people in this country waiting for an organ transplant and we have about 8 thousand deceased donors every year. So it's important for people to be aware to talk to their families about it," said Rayburn.

She says the process is a miracle for the patient who is severely ill.  Donor families often make that final decision.

Every year the families of donors will donate a square which could include a photograph or any thing else. Those squares are then taken and a quilt is made and taken to conferences like this one.

Conferences raising awareness.  "It really does help", adds Cassie.

Learn more about the Alabama Organ Center at their website.

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