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Bill Bennett and Dave LeFevre Honor Donate Life Month at Hospital Where Bill Received Dave's Kidney-And a Second Chance at Life

SEATTLE, WA. - (April 13, 2009) — In 2005, Bill Bennett was quickly going downhill in his battle against polycystic kidney disease, or PKD. He was telling his friend, Dave LeFevre, how he was about to go on dialysis and needed to find a new kidney in order to survive. A few months later, Bill and Dave would find themselves at Virginia Mason Medical Center as Dave's kidney was transplanted into Bill. Now more than three years later, the two will re-visit Virginia Mason Medical Center April 15 to raise the "Donate Life" flag over the hospital that changed both of their lives.

"A couple of weeks after Bill told me his story, it hit me. I was supposed to be his donor," says Dave. "I turned to him and said, 'Bill, I think I am your donor. What do I need to do?'" Dave was right. After numerous compatibility tests, they were judged a "match" and the surgery scheduled. On Jan. 24, 2006, Bill received Dave's kidney and a new chance at a healthy life. "I will always be grateful for the privilege of helping Bill in this miraculous way."

Bill says: "My life is better than ever. I'm more involved in the lives of my wife and four kids and everything feels more focused and precious ... thanks to a great friend that was willing to give me the gift of life; I can do more, knowing so much more what the gift of life is worth!"

Bill and Dave will be at Virginia Mason Medical Center at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15 to share their story and answer questions before raising the "Donate Life" flag. The flag flies in the month of April as part of a national initiative held each year to heighten organ, eye, and tissue donation awareness and encourage everyone to register their wishes to be a donor. Going forward, the "Donate Life" flag will be raised- with patient permission- for 24 hours each time a living organ transplant is underway at Virginia Mason Hospital.

The Donate Life Today Registry is managed by LifeCenter Northwest — one of the 58 federally-designated non-profit organ procurement organizations (OPO) in the United States. By educating the community about the need and the importance for people to register their donation wishes, they hope to help the over 100,000 people waiting for a transplant. The Washington Donate Life Today Registry is a confidential database of donation wishes to be carried out at the time of death and accessed only by donation professionals. For more information, or to register your wishes, go to Donate Life America & LifeCenter Northwest.

Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health-care system that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 480 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital in Seattle. In addition, Virginia Mason has a network of clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area, and manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and Adult Day Health program for people living with HIV and AIDS. Virginia Mason also has an internationally recognized research center, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.

Related Links
Transplant Center at Virginia Mason


Flag Raising
Event Details
Who:

  • Bill Bennett, kidney recipient and Dave LeFevre, Bill's kidney donor
  • Cyrus Cryst, MD, medical director of the transplant program at Virginia Mason
  • Shirley Sherman, RN, assistant nurse manager in critical care at Virginia Mason
  • Megan Erwin, Executive Director, Donate Life Today

What: Press conference and "Donate Life" flag raising to honor Donate Life Month
When: Wednesday, April 15, 10 a.m.
Where: Virginia Mason Medical Center, Lindeman Pavilion patio, between 9th and Terry avenues on Seneca Street
Why: To raise awareness of the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donation:

There are more than 100,000 people on the national organ transplant waiting list. 18 people die each day waiting for transplants. Locally, 1,600 people are waiting and not all of them will live to see the transplant they need.

Photographers and cameras can expect to see:

  • A kidney transplant recipient sharing his story of receiving the ultimate gift;
  • That same patient's donor talking about living donation;
  • Both donor and recipient raising the Donate Life flag over Virginia Mason Medical Center;
  • Medical leaders at Virginia Mason and Donate Life Today speaking to the importance of donation in their work;
  • Health organizations across Washington pulling together to raise awareness of this important issue;
  • Information on how to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

Contact:
Jen Bergman, Vandenberg Communications
(206) 447-1801| Jen@vandenbergcom.com

Alisha Mark, Virginia Mason Medical Center
(206) 341-1509 | (425) 417-9499 cell | alisha.mark@vmmc.org

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