Memorial race aims to save lives

Andrea and her boys proudly remember their father every year at the race.Andrea and her boys proudly remember their father.
PHOTO COURTESY DENA REYNOLDS

Every three days, someone in the state of Virginia dies waiting for an organ transplant. Andrea Tribastone is doing everything she can to turn reduce those numbers as she plans for the 4th annual Carl Tribastone Memorial race.

Tribastone knows more than anyone that one person's tragedy can be another person's–- or other persons'–- miracle. Her husband died unexpectedly in 2004 during surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.

"He was totally healthy," Tribastone remembers. He was also an organ donor whose heart, liver, and kidneys were used to save four lives. While she chose not to learn the identity of the people he helped, she knows their ages and where they live. Her loss inspired her to spread information that could save other lives in the future.

On the one-year anniversary of his death, Trabistone planned a run in Carl's honor. All proceeds went to LifeNet Health–- the same organization that initiated the discussion with her about organ donation in the hospital.

According to Tribastone, after Carl's death, LifeNet stayed in touch with her and encouraged her to raise awareness about organ donation. In the United States, people are not organ donors unless they've specifically signaled the desire, either at the DMV or at save7lives.org. In Virginia, the donor's wish is honored–- family consent is not required. LifeNet Health will have a table to register organ donors at this year's race on August 16.

Carl was survived by Andrea and his four sons ages five, four, and one-year-old twins at the time.

"My kids love it," said Tribastone. "They call it the 'Daddy race.' They see people wearing the shirt, and it makes them and me very proud." The shirts, presented to the organ recipients in the race, say "Thank You, Carl!"

Both donor families and transplant recipients will be running this year. "You can see how much a transplant changes a life," Tribastone says.

The race happens August 16 at 7:30am at Forest Lakes South Pool/Clubhouse, 1650 Ashwood Blvd. Registration: $25 advance or $30 race day ($75 max entry fee for a family of three or more). To register early, visit Ragged Mountain Running Shop by August 15, or send a check to the address on the race website.

1 comment

If more people were as generous as Carl Tribastone and his family, there wouldn't be such a large shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

Over half of the 99,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.