ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Every 10 minutes someone is added to the national transplant waiting list, according to Gift of Life Donor Program.
An Allentown man who has spent the past two decades advocating for organ donations once again will join that list.
Fred Jerant needs a second organ of his own.
- Fred Jerant is an organ donation ambassador in Allentown
- He now needs a second kidney donation
- Jerant organizes a student essay and poster contest through Gift of Life’s Lehigh Valley Ambassadors for Organ and Tissue Donation program
“It’s failing and that happens, a) because I’m still diabetic and b) they don’t last forever,” Jerant said.
After providing years of community service, he’s now asking his community for help.
“I’m trying to get ahead of that game by contacting family members, friends, business associates, just letting them know what my situation is.”
Fred Jerant of Allentown, organ donation advocate
“I’m trying to get ahead of that game by contacting family members, friends, business associates, just letting them know what my situation is and asking them to at least get tested to see if they might be compatible as a donor,” he said.
Jerant received his first transplant in 2003, when his sister donated one of her kidneys to him.
He has lived with diabetes for 55 years and soon will join the waiting list once again if he can’t find a donor on his own.
“My kidney is still functioning, but it’s, it’s a couple of quarts low, so to speak, and I have some tests to go through before I can actually be put on a transplant waiting list,” he said.
Still organizing awareness programs
The average wait time for an organ on the transplant list is three to five years, according to the Gift of Life Donor Program.
Those needing a kidney typically wait the longest. On average, 17 people a day die waiting for an organ.
Jerant, who is a writer and father of two, has been an advocate for organ donation for the past two decades following his first transplant.
A double-amputee, he is part of Gift of Life’s Lehigh Valley Ambassadors for Organ and Tissue Donation program.
Group members include those who have received an organ, those who have donated an organ, family members of donors and recipients, and those who are passionate about organ donation.
Each year, the group holds a local poster and essay contest for school-age children and Jerand is an organizer for the annual event at which “middle school and high school students create a poster or write an essay, encouraging people to be donors, or at least registered to be donors.”
Transplant advocate and recipient Fred Jerant
Each year, the group holds a local poster and essay contest for school-age children and Jerant is an organizer for the annual event.
He said it is “where middle school and high school students create a poster or write an essay, encouraging people to be donors, or at least register to be donors.”
The group often takes part in presentations at local high schools, where many of the students are around the age of acquiring a driver’s license, and touts the benefits of becoming an organ donor.
People who want to become an organ donor can check the box when getting a new or renewed driver’s license or can visit donors1.org.