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Be a hero. Be an organ donor.
By Susan Stuart, President and CEO, Center for Organ Recovery & Education

The decision to become an organ, tissue and cornea donor is an honorable one. It is a decision that displays generosity, selflessness and courage. In 2016, 237 donors became true heroes by giving the gift of life to someone else right here in the greater western Pennsylvania area. Their families understood that the decision to donate was one that someone else's life depended on.

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) in Pittsburgh works closely with these donors' families. As one of the 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States, CORE collaborates with designated health care professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissue and corneas for transplantation, while also raising awareness in the community on the need for more organ, tissue and cornea donors in western Pennsylvania.

And Rosie isn't alone. Sadly, nearly 118,000 people nationwide are also waiting for a second chance at life. You can be a sign of hope for those waiting. Become an everyday hero by registering as an organ, tissue and cornea donor at core.org/register.

CORE brings together donor families and transplant recipients; a relationship that can often be awe-inspiring. Donor mom and transplant nurse Mary Grace Hensell's son, Brian, saved multiple lives as a liver, kidney and pancreas donor after a fatal car crash in 2011. Her son's heart recipient, Melvin Protzman, now affectionately calls Ms. Hensell "mom," even though he is many years her senior. For Melvin, Brian and Mary Grace are true heroes.

At the same time, many families are still waiting for their personal hero. Three-year-old Rosalina "Rosie" Vargas is among them. Born with a rare, inherited metabolic disorder, Rosie's best option to regain metabolic stability and avoid the constant risk of brain damage is a liver transplant from a deceased donor. After Rosie was added to the national transplant waiting list, the Vargas family permanently relocated to Pittsburgh from California to wait and undergo treatment at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 163 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, New York. For more information, visit www.core.org, or call 1-800-DONORS-7 or 1-800-366-6777.

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