Monroe man raises awareness about organ donation while waiting for a new heart

Philip Perry holds up a sign highlighting that 95% of adults support organ donation but only 57% have signed up to be donors.

Philip Perry is trying to stay busy and remain healthy – anything he can do to keep his mind off the fact that he needs a new heart.

“I’m trying not to think about the things that people in my situation seem to think about a lot,” said Philip, 40, of Monroe. “It’s in your face all the time. When I find myself falling down, I just try to get back up and don’t go that far down again.”

At the end of June 2021, Philip said he was having trouble breathing but was too stubborn to go to a doctor to get checked out. He collapsed about a week later and was sent by ambulance to a hospital in Toledo – where doctors told him he had about a 3% chance to live through the night.

“They did not expect me to make it,” he said.

Philip barely remembers that night or the next several days. He was flown to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and woke up from a medically induced coma about 16 days later. He learned then that his heart was 57% larger than it should have been and that it would never heal. He needed a new one to survive.

He’s spent the last year learning about organ donation and working to become healthy enough to be evaluated for a heart transplant. Philip has also been encouraging people to add their names to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

“We’re not going to save everybody, but the number of people who are dying while waiting seems absolutely absurd to me,” he said. “I definitely want to raise awareness.”

More than 100,000 people are waiting for a transplant in the U.S., including nearly 2,400 here in Michigan. Of those, 128 are waiting for a heart. A new patient is added to the national waiting list every nine minutes and 17 die each day waiting for an organ transplant, according to Donate Life America.

Philip, a registered donor himself, said he doesn’t think it has to be that way and encourages anyone who has not already added their name to the Donor Registry to do so.

“I don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone,” he said. “But if it does and you can save someone, please do. I think it’s beautiful; that’s the way it should be. All you have to do is check a box.”

For more information or to sign up as a donor, visit golm.org/register.

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