- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2008

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Paul Posharow is one of more than 7,000 people to receive an organ transplant facilitated by the Living Legacy Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Mr. Posharow was at a family picnic in Emmitsburg, Md., when he received the call.

“We had ordered some crabs, I had a beer, then my cell phone rang,” he said. “They said, ‘This is Hopkins, we have a heart for you.’ ”

He had an hour to get from Carroll County to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. His son-in-law alerted state police that he would be speeding.

About 12 hours later, on July 4, 2003, his new heart beat in his chest for the first time.

“It’s all about second chances and infinite hope; that’s our slogan,” said Jim Ford, Living Legacy Foundation spokesman.

The foundation grew out of an organ-sharing network developed in 1968 among several East Coast hospitals and universities, including Johns Hopkins, Duke University, the University of Virginia and the Medical College of Virginia.

As the organ donation movement grew, the Greater Baltimore Organ Procurement and Perfusion Center formed in 1979. The center was incorporated in 1983 as the Maryland Organ Procurement Center, which last year became the Living Legacy Foundation.

The foundation, part of the national United Network for Organ Sharing, matches donors and recipients at no cost to either party, Mr. Ford said.

Mr. Posharow had been on the transplant list after two valve-replacement surgeries, several bouts with heart failure, and a cardiac arrest in 2002 that almost killed him.

Tracking down a suitable organ recipient is nearly as difficult as finding enough donors. Mr. Posharow said he was third on the list for the heart he received. The first man whom Hopkins called was too far away to make the trip in an hour, and doctors determined the second was too tall for the organ to support.

After receiving his new heart in 2003, Mr. Posharow dealt with the emotional strain of transplant surgery.

“I felt like I lost something, even though it only bothered me a little bit,” he said. “Some recipients struggle with depression, but I never felt strongly that way.”

Mr. Posharow met his donor’s wife in 2006. The donor, a man in his 40s and an avid cyclist, was killed when a vehicle struck his bicycle, he said. He learned he had a cultural connection to his donor. Mr. Posharow was born in Russia, and one of his donor’s hobbies had been painting Pysanky eggs, or Ukrainian Easter eggs.

“It was neat to walk in [to his house] and see those pictures,” Mr. Posharow said. “It was quite an emotional meeting.”

Mr. Posharow now represents the foundation in the Frederick County area, which includes speaking at Motor Vehicle Administration centers to encourage people to become organ donors.

“It’s a noble thing to do, and [my family is] all on the donor list, even me,” he said. “If they need it, they’d be glad if someone else put their name on the donor list.”

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