PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the rain and cold on Sunday morning, thousands of people had a heartwarming reason to clock some miles.
“It’s been an amazing experience. It’s given me a second chance at life,” said Arlinda Smith, who received pancreas and kidney transplants.
The 23rd annual Donor Dash took place near the Art Museum in Philadelphia to celebrate the lives saved through organ and tissue donation, to honor the donors who have passed, and to encourage others to consider giving.
Megan Kienzle of Malvern didn’t hesitate.
“She was really, really sick. She didn’t have that much time,” Kienzle said of her friend, Leanne Purcell.
Nearly three years ago, she donated half of her liver to Purcell, who suddenly fell ill.
“When I got the transplant, I was so sick that I didn’t know who donated,” Purcell, now 20-years-old, said. “A few days later, my dad came in and kind of sat me down. At that moment, Megan went wheeling by on her hospital bed, and I said, ‘You can’t tell me that it was her, like there’s no way!’ But I remember Megan coming up to me a few months later saying she knows she was meant to come into my life for a reason and she was meant to do this, so yeah we definitely have a bond.”
Purcell says she wants to help educate others on the importance of organ donation.
“I remember when I first got my license, I didn’t really know what that meant. I was like, ‘Yeah sure I’ll be an organ donor, whatever.’ But now having gone through it, there’s so many people in my situation who need an organ donation,” she said.
More than 5,000 people in our region alone are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, according to the Gift of Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to coordinating life-saving organ transplants.
“He gave the gift of sight to two young men and I’m walking in his memory today,” said Dawn Ortiz, who lost her son, Rickey, in 2015 to a blood clot.
His eleven-year-old sister, Emme, says she is encouraged that because of his willingness to be an organ donor, his legacy will continue to live.
“It’s a pride to know he helped someone and help them move on and now they can do other things and enjoy their life,” she said.
Last year, the Donor Dash raised more than half a million dollars.