HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – A local veteran just made history being the oldest person in U.S. history to donate an organ.
95 year old, Cecil Lockhart, from Welch, West Virginia had a liver donated to the Charleston Area Medical Center Monday morning.
Nationally, more than 50% of Americans are registered organ donors, but that number drops drastically for the state of West Virginia and even more when comparing men to women.
A few organizations here in the Mountain State are working to turn those numbers around.
Katelynn Metz, a spokesperson for the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) says she’s noticed a common issue some men have with registering to donate organs.
“A lot of them, I think, have a hard time thinking about their vulnerability that this could be something that could happen to them, that they could pass away. Just not wanting to think about that,” says Metz.
Organizations now are working to encourage men to register by simply broadening the registration process.
“Now you can register to be an organ donor on your hunting and fishing license application. Which is an incredible thing. West Viriginia is one of only a few states – so really a pioneer – doing this.”Katelynn Metz / CORE spokesperson
This process has only been an option for 18 months, but in those 18 months CORE says more than 33,000 West Virginians have registered and 70% of them are men.
Some Huntington residents seemed to have similar reasons for wanting to become an organ donor.
“I feel like at the point when I’m donating them I wouldn’t be using them anymore. Someone else could be using them a little bit better than I could. If it helps someone I want to,” says Alexander Mcceanchern.
Oliver Cox says he felt comfortable registering because he “…read a little bit about it and saw that they don’t kill you or take your organs prematurely. They make sure that you’re safe.”
Metz says there are many myths she’d like to debunk about becoming an organ donor; one myth being age. “People think they’re too old to become an organ donor,” says Metz.
She also says she hopes the older residents and men can take Cecil’s legacy and see that it is possible.