Sally-Ann Roberts / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS - More than 100,000 people are on a waiting list in the United States for organ transplants, nearly 2,000 of those in Louisiana.
In 2007, Cheryl Guillory, a Lafayette mother of three, was told she had pulmonary hypertension and her doctor’s diagnosis was blunt.
“Go home and make burial arrangements,” Guillory recalled her doctor saying.
Guillory now has a new lease on life and a new set of lungs thanks to Marguerite Lajoy’s mother.
“As long as I’m alive, as long as I can breathe, her mom Mosey, she will still breathe,” said Guillory. “She’s still alive in me.”
Ymeka “Mosey” Smith was only 36 when she died of a massive stroke. Guillory received both of Smith’s lungs and Marguerite said she received some peace of mind.
“I wanted to know who got my mother’s lungs and ever since that day, I said, ‘My mom’s not dead. With Ms. Cheryl here, my mom’s still here.’”
“Just because the color of our skin is different, doesn’t mean what’s inside is any different,” said Guillory, who is white. Smith is African-American. “We’re all human.”
Marguerite was adopted as a baby by a family in New Orleans, yet she stayed in contact with Mosey, her birth mother, and now Cheryl says they are all one big family because of Mosey.
“She was a very beautiful woman,” said Guillory. “She also had a smile on her face, every picture I’ve ever seen of her.”
Ymeka saved not one life, but two. Her liver was donated to another person in need and Ymeka made the decision herself by deciding to list herself as an organ donor on her driver’s license.
“I was happy that my mother did such a good thing,” Lajoy. “It made me want to be an organ donor.”
And, the need for organ donors is great.
“When you look at that child on a waiting list, that person on dialysis, that person that is struggling to breathe for a lung, or that patient in the hospital waiting for a heart… let’s give so more can live,” said Cheryl Hills of Louisiana’s Organ Procurement Agency.
You can register to be a donor when you get or renew your driver’s license or by going to lopa.org.