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'I do this to honor the family that gave me their organs': Kidney recipient celebrates transplant anniversary

Hu Whitten received a kidney nine years ago, and now he's working encourage others to become organ donors

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, every nine minutes someone is added to the transplant waiting list. Currently, more than 105,000 people are on that waiting list in the United States. That includes men, women and children. For one man in Warner Robins, he is empowering families to donates their loved ones organs at the end of their life.

"I am a kidney and pancreas recipient," Hu Whitten said.

Nine years ago on July 20, Whitten received his transplant. What's even more special is that his wife, Juliet Whitten, donated her kidney to Hu's brother, Andrew. 

"He needed one and I have an extra, and it gives him the chance to have a full life," Juliet Whitten said.

She said she didn't hesitate to donate and was even a match for her husband in the beginning when he need a kidney and pancreas.

"If I'm a match, of course, I'd donate in a heartbeat, no second thought about it."

Hu Whitten works for LifeLink of Georgia as a family care coordinator. LifeLink helps families and patient with organ donation. Whitten's job is to help families with the organ donation process. The nonprofit has an office in Florida and Puerto Rico. In the 2019-2020 year, LifeLink was able to transplant 2,039 organs. Whitten said he doesn't tell the families he's helping that he's a kidney and pancreas recipient.

"I don't feel that families necessarily need that pressure that, "Hey, I'm a recipient -- you could be helping somebody like me," Whitten said.

Now, Whitten is encouraging others to register as organ donors.

"It's not just the recipient that gets those organs it's their family and the people that they're able to touch and to influence that you have a small part in," Whitten said. 

And that small part makes a huge difference in a family's life.

You can register to be an organ donor at organdonor.org

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