News Releases

June 01, 2016

Vermont City Marathon Team SPAREPARTS 5 Runs for Organ and Tissue Donation

There's a special bond between Taylor Abbott and her dad, James, that goes deeper than driving her around New England to her band's gigs, or his watching with pride as she is inducted this week into the National Honor Society. The 16-year-old Cabot High School sophomore will be running strong at the Vermont City Marathon, thanks in part to the liver donation she received from her father when she was just an infant.

Taylor will start for SPAREPARTS 5, a five-person relay team of organ donors, recipients, and organ donation health professionals.

Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD, an emergency room physician, who is running his third marathon as part of the team, said SPAREPARTS 5 is not in the race to win. "We're aiming for a bigger prize - to increase the number of people who register to be a potential organ or tissue donor."

According to DonateLife Vermont, 48 percent of Vermonters are registered to be organ and tissue donors. Most have registered through the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles.

When she was just two to three weeks old, Taylor developed Biliary atresia, a disease that affects the bile ducts in infants. "She wasn't expected to live more than a few months without a transplant," Abbott explained.

Every 10 minutes someone is added to the national transplant list. While Taylor was quickly added to the list, James and his wife Karen also looked into becoming live organ donors for their daughter.

"There are so many people in need of a donated organ and, like in Taylor's case, they may not have a lot of time," said Abbott. "So we did a lot of research and worked with the terrific staff at University of Vermont Medical Center and Columbia Medical Center at New York-Presbyterian about our options. "We were tested to be live donors, and I was the better match for donating part of my liver. I thank God every day for that miracle."

Abbott is passionate about sharing his family's experience. "I would love to see more people sign up to become organ donors." He has since teamed up with Jim Carter, coordinator of the Transplant Donor Network. Carter's own daughter lost her life in a car crash, and her family made the decision for her to be a donor. Carter has since made more than 2,000 presentations over the past 16 years, visiting schools and organizations encouraging people to become registered donors. Carter said his experiences drive one of the major topics of his presentations to students. "I encourage them to discuss this at home. I tell them, talk with your parents as you get into adulthood." Of Carter, Abbott says he is an inspiration. "He helps people to understand that from unspeakable tragedy can come life and hope for so many."

"Making the decision to register to be an organ or tissue donor is a profoundly generous act," said Dr. Chen. "There are more than 120,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant. I can tell you from first-hand experience, these selfless acts save lives."

Taylor and Chen will be joined by three teammates, each representing organ donors and professionals. Gifford Medical Center's Dr. Christine Maloney, the daughter of Dennis Maloney who donated a kidney to a stranger; Bob Opel, organ procurement director at University of Vermont Medical Center; and Bridget Marroquin, MD, an anesthesiologist at UVMMC, who is running to represent transplant surgeons like her husband, Dr. Carlos Marroquin.

To learn more about becoming an organ and tissue donor, visit DonateLife Vermont at http://donatelifevt.org/.

Media Contact: Vermont Department of Health, 802-863-7281

Source: Department of Health
Last Updated at: June 01, 2016 11:01:43