The number of patients in need of an organ transplant continues to rise.
According to the Idaho Donor Registry, more than 103,000 people await a transplant. One hundred thirty-three people are added to the waiting list daily — that’s one every 11 minutes — and around 78 transplants take place every day.
A local man hopes to be one of those lucky 78 patients who receives a donor match and a transplant.
Doctors said one organ donor can save eight lives and help more than 50 people. For Perry Tonks, that one match is all he needs to survive.
“As long as the liver fits, then it would be fine,” said Perry.
In 2006, Tonks suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with a heart condition. His health steadily declined until he began experiencing swelling, shortness of breath and confusion. Soon after those symptoms appeared, he was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease.
“They’re looking for a liver, but it could take some time,” said Perry. “The sooner the better.”
In the meantime Perry’s wife, eight children and 15 grandchildren are doing everything they can to spread the word about the importance of organ donations.
“You would donate on your driver’s license because it felt like the right thing to do, but you never know how many people actually need it,” said Lorna Tonks, Perry’s wife. “It’s a growing concern because there’s just not enough donors out there.”
That concern isn’t just for Perry Tonks. Local doctors feel the strain of not having sufficient donors, either.
“In Idaho, there’s around 400 people waiting for an organ and around 25-30 of those are children,” said Greg Trosper, Intermountain Donor Services board member. “So there’s a huge need for it.”
The Tonks family will be hosting a fundraising lunch for Perry on Tuesday, July 31 at Texas Roadhouse in Ammon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information or to donate, visit http://patientstransplants.org/perrytonks