BY APRIL STARINSKY
APOPKA – “When I first got my driver’s license, I checked the box to become an organ donor. I’ve always had the belief that when you die, your body goes to the earth, so why not have someone else live through me?”
Michael Grey didn’t know a decision he made as a teenager would help save the life of the man he says shaped his world. Grey’s stepfather raised him from the age of six. When Michael’s stepfather went into kidney failure and needed a transplant, Grey decided to get tested to see if he could donate. The odds were against them because they’re not blood relatives. But soon a call came that Grey was a match and could donate his kidney.
“It was a surreal feeling, to know I was going to help somebody who sacrificed so much for me,” Grey explained.
Grey and his stepfather would have one big obstacle to overcome before surgery. The transplant was scheduled for September 29, 2022, when Hurricane Ian was forecast to affect Central Florida. The surgery at the AdventHealth Transplant Institute in Orlando was moved to first thing that morning and, despite the hurricane, went off without a hitch. Both are now healthy and fully recovered. Grey said, “I was told he got a happy kidney because it kicked in that evening.”
A few months later, Grey’s younger half-brother died. Michael reached out to his sibling’s mother, explained that he had recently donated a kidney and asked her to consider donating organs. She agreed, and as many as eight people may have been saved by that decision.
Grey, who is a project manager for AdventHealth’s strategic supply chain team said the treatment he and his family received made him even more proud to be part of an organization that provides whole-patient care.
“It was the first time I experienced the four service standards at one time. I walked in, I felt safe. The team made it easy for me. They owned their responsibility of making sure everything went well. And I truly felt the love.”
Currently, there are nearly 5,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list in Florida and the average wait time for deceased donor kidney transplant is more than three years. Living donors can significantly reduce that wait time. To learn more about the living donor program, click here: Donating a Kidney | AdventHealth Transplant Institute. To sign up to be an organ donor go to www.donatelifeflorida.org.