By Vinora Hamilton
FORT LAUDERDALE – Dr. Sherilyn Gordon-Burroughs, MD, FACS, was in the prime of her life. The successful liver surgeon, a key member of the transplant team at Houston Methodist Hospital, Texas lost her life tragically on March 19.
Dr. Gordon-Burroughs was trained in multi-organ transplantation and operated on children and adults. She conducted extensive research on various types of liver conditions and the medicines that have been developed to treat them.
At the time of her death she was Chair of the Legislative Committee for the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and was pursuing a number of patient and donor-centered initiatives in the U.S. House of Representative that would greatly improve patient and donor care and experience.
As the nation observes Organ Donor Awareness Month we remember Dr. Gordon Burroughs for the strides she made in saving lives and advocating on behalf of organ donors and recipients.
Today, more than 120,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list. More than 6,000 of these individuals are right here in our community.
Judith Charlton, a resident of Broward County welcomed her first child Charlton into the world 30 years ago. What was supposed to be a joyous time for the family soon became a race for life when young Charlton was diagnosed with Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome, a life-threatening condition that affects both kidneys.
Children diagnosed with this illness usually spend most of their early life in and out of the hospital and are usually given about four years to live unless they receive a new kidney.
With this news, Judith quickly underwent the test to determine if she was a match for her son. The results revealed that she was a perfect match and once her son reached the required weight she donated a kidney to him.
A little more than two years later, Charlton’s kidney went into chronic rejection and he began dialysis to stay alive. Several years after his first transplant he received another kidney, which has since failed. He has been back on the transplant registry waiting list for more than seven years hoping for another donor.
After many years of visiting dialysis treatment centers he now manages his condition at home with a hemodialysis system. “Hemodialysis is a much better option than going to a clinic he explains. I’m able to conduct my treatment in the comfort of my home and on my own schedule.” I’m also able to travel with my machine and supplies instead of having to locate a treatment center each time.”
In a recent conversation with Dr. Gordon Burroughs she explained that the main causes of kidney disease among blacks is diabetes and high blood pressure. Liver disease is caused mainly from consuming too much alcohol or from hepatitis B and C infection, she explained. She also added that Blacks are less likely to sign up as organ donors, citing prevailing myths, such as “my family won’t be able to have an open casket funeral if I’m a donor” or “somebody could take my organs and sell them.” While the current number of Whites on the national registry is only 12 percent more than Blacks, the rate of transplantation for Whites is 34 percent higher than Blacks. Part of her work was to dispel the myths surrounding organ donation so that more individuals would sign up.
Do you know someone who needs a new organ? Why not explore the possibility of being a donor for that person or adding your name to the national donor registry? One organ donor can save up to eight lives.
Visit OrganDonor.gov today to learn the facts about being an organ donor, and give the gift of life.