September 17, 2015

Gift of Life Tailgate celebrates kidney donors’ efforts

David Edwards admits that organ donation was not a top priority in his life.

Kidney donor David Edwards, left, poses with his friend, Mark Whitlock, at the Gift of Life Tailgate before last Saturday’s Vanderbilt-Georgia football game. (photo by John Russell)

David Edwards admits that organ donation was not a top priority in his life.

That all changed in 2013 when his then 12-year-old daughter needed a kidney. Edwards was the first in line to check on his ability to donate.

Thankfully, he was a match for his daughter, whose kidneys never recovered after she was diagnosed with E. coli in 2011.

“Before this all happened I never thought much about organ donation,” said Edwards. “I didn’t quite understand the process and what all was involved. But once it hit home, it all started becoming clearer.

“When I was in the middle of it all, I just wanted to move forward and do what I could to save my daughter,” he said. “Your lens on life changes after something like this.”

Edwards encouraged others to learn more about organ donation during the Gift of Life Tailgate, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

He was among a group of local living kidney donors who were recognized during Saturday’s football game between the Vanderbilt University Commodores and the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

Each donor was given a gift of life medal in recognition of their life-saving donations.

“Thousands of people each year donate kidneys to people facing kidney failure,” said Amanda Lyles, R.N., kidney outreach coordinator at Vanderbilt. “Some donate to family members, some to friends and others to strangers in need.

“We wanted to educate the community about the need for living donations and about the fact that living donors can live a normal and healthy life post surgery.”

With more than 100,000 patients waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States, many patients wait three to five years for a transplant.

A living donor can reduce the time a patient spends waiting for a kidney transplant while allowing another patient to move up on the wait list.

Edwards said he is thankful every day that he was able to donate to his daughter, Cara, 14.

“Cara is doing really well,” he said. “She is playing volleyball for the second year, she’s growing and, all in all, she’s a healthy teenager.”

At Vanderbilt there are more than 800 patients waiting for kidneys.

To learn more about living kidney donation go to and click on the kidney/pancreas transplant tab on the site.