Meet LifeLink ORGANizer, Al Paton, a retired Navy Captain, for 24½ years!
In 2010, while living in San Diego, Al’s primary care doctor became concerned about his bloodwork, which showed potential liver disease, and referred him to a gastroenterologist at the Balboa Naval Hospital for further observation. Al underwent several months of CT scans, MRIs and blood work and was diagnosed with liver cancer, specifically Hepatocellular Carcinoma, in the fall of 2011. He was referred to the transplant center at Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego and on May 18, 2012, Al received a life-saving liver transplant.
In 2016, Al and his wife, Carol, both Florida natives, returned to the St. Petersburg, Florida area to be near Carol’s elderly mother. Al immediately sought out volunteer opportunities with the transplant center at Tampa General Hospital and with LifeLink of Florida, to mentor others facing end-stage organ failure and to educate the public about the importance of organ and tissue donation. He attributes his drive to help others to his positive experience with a transplant related support group during his transplant journey, and feels called to assist transplant patients and their caregivers as they travel that same road.
Al also shares his experiences throughout the community during public and virtual appearances to encourage others to become registered organ donors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Al has coordinated a monthly transplant support group meeting via ZOOM because he knows it’s important for new transplant patients to be able to see, share with and learn from more seasoned patients to know that there is life after transplant. And it’s a good life.
Thanks to his organ donor, Al has been able to celebrate the wedding of his youngest daughter, see four grandchildren graduate from high school, one graduate from college and get married, and in July, Al and Carol are looking forward to celebrating the birth of their first great-grandchild. Al pays tribute to his donor and his continued good health by participating in the annual Sunshine Skyway 10K race. As a three-time participant he adds that, “the view from the top is breathtaking”.
We want to thank Al for his many hours of service as a LifeLink ORGANizer. If you are interested in sharing the importance of organ and tissue donation and want to learn more about how you can aid in helping spread the Donate Life message, sign up to be a volunteer! To learn more information on organ, eye and tissue donation or to register your donation decision and say ‘YES’ to donation today click here.