“I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a young man in his twenties…I was happy, but at the same time I was sad,” said Taylor.
Seven years later, Taylor is doing well with his new heart and liver, sharing his story and even inspiring some young people to sign up for organ donation.
“Some of them were 16, 17, some of them were 18 and those who had gotten their license said they did do it… they signed up to be organ donors,” said Taylor.
And now those younger teens can too, thanks to a new Illinois law.
As of January 1, 2018, 16 and 17-year-olds can sign up at the secretary of state’s office for their organ donor sticker.
“That would enable us to add at least 350,000 people to the state registry for organ and tissue donations, which would really be able to impact the number of people we have waiting for transplants,” said Gift of Hope hospital developer Allison Wallace.
It’s a number that’s grown to more than 4,000 people. Gift of Hope is an organ and tissue donation network and it estimates nearly 300 people will die waiting for a transplant this year.
“It’s huge. it saves so many lives,” said Mercyhealth pediatric nursing manager Louise Hauser.
Even though parents would still need to consent at the time of the organ donation, medical professionals say giving teens a way to express their wishes is important.
“That this is something they’re interested in, that they want to help someone after they’ve passed, that’s really crucial to the parents, it really helps them decide what to do in those moments, said Hauser.
A decision that could help save up to 8 lives, just like it saved Gregory Taylor’s.
“It just allowed me to keep doing the things I love to do,” added Taylor.