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Son wishes for father to receive new liver

ELGIN, OK (KSWO) - A child's wish for his father to receive a new liver has prompted one local school to host an organ donor drive.

It's part of Elgin Middle School's "Winter Wish Week”, where students were asked to make two wishes, one for themselves and one for others. Teachers and student council members are working to make those wishes come true. 8th grader Jake Spencer wished for a new liver for his dad, who has been on the transplant list for the last three years.

Elgin Middle School obviously couldn’t just give Jake's dad a new liver --- but they say but they didn't want his wish to go unanswered.
So, they called Life-Share -- a non-profit that came in to sign people up to become organ donors... all while raising awareness about the need for organ donation.

Jake Spencer says making his wish for his dad to get a new liver was an easy decision.

"You can buy a new toy but you can never buy a new dad,” Jake Spencer said.

Three years ago, Robert Spencer found out he had Cirrhosis of the liver, which causes healthy liver tissue to be replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. He was told he would need a new liver within the next five years.

"Now since he's sick he can't do all the stuff he could do,” Jake Spencer said.

"About the time you get over one hurdle, there tends to be another one in the way. So, you know it's a tough deal but I believe in a higher power so I ask him for help every day,” Robert Spencer said.

Every student at Elgin Middle School made wishes through the Winter Wish program and Robert says he's thrilled that his son thought of him.

"It makes me feel very proud and very humble at the same time. I mean, I was overwhelmed that he thought of me, not that he wouldn't think of me, just not on a personal basis and all the wishes he had in the world that this was his wish,” Robert Spencer said.

Robert said he hopes today's organ donation drive and his son's wish inspires people around the community to become organ donors.

"I know at one time being and organ donor was kind of a negative thing but over the last 10 or 15 years the way the scientific field has progressed, there can be so many lives saved,” Robert Spencer said.

Nita French is the Community Outreach Coordinator for LifeShare, the non-profit sponsoring Wednesday’s donation drive. She said right now there are more than 121,000 people in the United States in need of a new organ, more than 800 of whom are Oklahomans. She said 21 people die each day because they don't receive an organ they need.

"The need for organs is great,” French said. “At the end of the day what it boils down to is if you register to be a donor, you can save over 50 people when you die and if you don't register to be a donor you won't save anyone. So it's really something people need to think about because the hope of being able to be able to give eight organs to people and save their lives is really astounding."

French said today's event allowed her to talk to students who will soon be getting their driver's licenses about what being an organ donor can do.
"We're always glad to go out to the school but this is awesome too because we are going to have parents involved and it's really special to rather than just ask people to register to be a donor, to actually have someone here that is waiting for an organ because that's an extra special reason to register,” French said.

Robert Spencer said he is thankful for the Elgin Middle School Winter Wishes program taking Jake's wish and running with it not only to help him but to help the thousands of other people waiting on organ transplant lists.

If you would like to sign up to be an organ donor you can do so online here.

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