Save as many as 8 lives through organ donation

The importance of organ donation
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 3:03 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Every nine minutes a name is added to the national transplant registry. According to, 100,000 people are waiting for a transplant. On an average day, 79 people receive a transplant while 18 die waiting.

Speaking with two transplant survivors, Gregory Works and Caron Shultz share their stories of hope, healing, and receiving a second chance at life.

“Kidney disease for me was hereditary, my grandmother had it, maternal grandmother and mother had it. it was passed down to myself and my siblings,” says Works, a two-time kidney transplant recipient (who has lived with kidney disease for one-third of his life) and author of “Triumph: Life on the Other Side of Trials, Transplants and Transformation.”

Works needed a kidney. At 39 years old, he’d been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and for the next four years, doctors closely monitored Works.

“At 2008 I learned I would need a new kidney. I began searching for donors and we moved forward with a kidney transplant in the beginning of 2009,” Works added.

Surviving rounds of dialysis, Works worked on finding a willing donor, “my second kidney transplant I was going really through it.” Family genetics prevented them as donors but a phone call from his sister changed his life forever. Works says, “She knew a family that had a person that was not going to make it, a son and they were willing to do a direct donation to me, their son had an accidental overdose of all things Fentanyl.”

Kidneys aren’t the only things that can be donated.

A Custer woman received multiple organs. Diagnosed at 3 years old, Caron Schultz lived with Type 1 Diabetes all her life, however, at 30 years old, her kidneys were only functioning at 30 percent.

“My mom stepped up and we were both on call for 18 months because we were waiting for a pancreas because I was getting both a pancreas which would stop all the effects my diabetes was having on me and she was giving me my kidney,” says Schultz. It took a year and a half, and during that time Schultz and her mom were on call to find a pancreas match.

“This story is really about Donna Gardner, she had a sudden brain aneurysm. A single mother, she was engaged and had a horrible headache, short matter of time, she went to the hospital, and her mom and dad were there and came to my rescue, they came to so many people’s rescue by donating all of her organs, tissue, eyes and saved so many people,” says Shultz.

Like Works, Shultz got a second chance. “The joy and the grief knowing how I received this organ from somebody else’s pain was my light. She was able to save my life and there’s not a day I don’t thank her for that.”

Click on the video to watch the full story.