There are over 107,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, as of February 2021. 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant, and every nine minutes another person is added to the waiting list. 90% of U.S. adults support organ donation, but only 60% are actually signed up as donors. One person can donate up to eight lifesaving organs.
Matthew Wright had a conversation with his parents about his wish to be an organ donor if the situation were ever to arise. When he passed away, his parents were ready to follow his wishes. Matthew saved four lives that day and gave two people the gift of sight. One of the lives he saved was then-eight-year-old Landyn Ozuna Valdez. Registering to be an organ donor, and making sure you let people know about your wishes will help give people like Landyn a second chance at life.
“Hello Matthew. Thanks for your kidney, it is a pleasure to take care of it at all times.”
Landyn Ozuna Valdez was born with Posterior Urethral Valve. This condition caused his urine to back up into his kidneys and an overall decrease in healthy kidney function over time. His family knew that there would come a time when a transplant would be necessary and life-saving.
In the spring of 2018, Landyn’s kidney function started dropping quickly. Everyone was very concerned about what could potentially happen if a donor kidney was not found. Like all eight-year-olds, Landyn did not fully understand death, but his family definitely did; they were extremely worried on his behalf. Tanis, Landyn’s mom, was tested to see if she could be a donor. Sadly, she had kidney issues of her own and was eliminated as a candidate.
On the day that the donor kidney became available, the hospital tried to contact Tanis, but she was at work with her phone turned off. Finally, Tanis spoke to the hospital, but time was of the essence. Landyn had to be in Portland within eight hours of the call, or he would not be able to receive the kidney that he so desperately needed. Immediately, she left work, grabbed their bags, and the family drove. At this point, Landyn had been on the donor recipient waiting list for fourteen and a half months.
While they were waiting for the transplant to take place, the Ozuna Valdez family learned that the kidney donor was a young person from Idaho’s Treasure Valley. Even though the family was beyond grateful that Landyn was getting his much-needed kidney, they were heartbroken that a family had lost someone they loved for him to get it.
The mixed feelings of love, loss, and devastating grief coupled with hope, optimism, and gratitude are the same to this very day. Landyn had been through a lot of sickness, surgeries, and hospital stays. But with Matthew’s gift, his family hoped that this little boy's journey would become full of the magic of being a child.
In May of 2018, KTVB in Boise aired a story about Landyn Ozuna Valdez. (see video above) Ann instictively knew that Landyn had received Matthew's kidney. In April of 2019, a story aired about Matthew and the upcoming Dash for Donation. Unknown to Ann, the Ozuna Valdez family felt that Landyn's kidney had come from Matthew. Immediatley, they made the decision to meet Ann, giving her the opportunity to meet Landyn. That meeting took place at the Dash for Donation 5K Walk in Boise in April 2019.