Ty Gipson has been a mover and shaker in Georgetown for many years.
He is an extraordinary business owner, having founded one of Minuteman Press’ most successful franchises in the nation. Plus, if you play or watch sports, you have undoubtedly seen some of his Waterboy Graphics creations and signage around our schools and fields.
He is also a former City Councilman (2015-18) who contributed much to the city’s development and growth.
Ty and his wife, Crystal are regular speakers in Georgetown and all over Central Texas. Their mission is to educate others to understand the truth about transplants as well as highlight the extreme need.
Ty, Crystal, and Gia invite you to visit them at Minuteman Press on S. Austin Avenue to talk about donation, or schedule a time for one of the family to talk to your group or business.
There are 11,000 people waiting for new, healthy organs, right now, in Texas alone. Across the United States, 22 people die each day waiting for a lifesaving transplant.
But this story is not about scary statistics. It is about the hope that comes on the heels of greater education that people like Ty Gipson are providing every day; while he is waiting for his own new kidney.
Ty is an ambassador for Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA). He and his family have become advocates of organ sharing because it has been part of their lives for nearly 20 years. The process gets better every year, and there are much fewer limitations than you might think.
In a few months, Ty will undergo surgery to receive a new kidney for the second time. His sister, Gia, says with a beaming smile, “God gave us two kidneys so we would be able to share one if it is needed. The impact is amazing, especially the joy and privilege to be alive, see the results, and know you really helped.”
THE GIPSON FAMILY
Ty was blessed nearly 20 years ago when his mother donated a kidney to him, where the education part of the story begins.
Earline was 59 years old at the time, which tells us age is not a factor in being a donor, and the donor doesn’t even need to be in top physical condition.
As long as the donor has never had cancer or kidney disease, any organ has potential. Ty’s wife Crystal says, “Ty’s mom has lived with one kidney and never had a health issue because of it. Just in case you think, But what if I need my kidney later?”, she assures, “When you become an organ sharer, if you ever need a transplant of your own, you are put at the top of the list immediately.”
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
Kidney transplants have become as commonplace as knee replacements in terms of procedures and recovery time. Removal is done laparoscopically and the donor is home within a few days.
What is amazing about this living donor program is that kidneys can be donated anonymously; anyone can be tested and added to a database. When a compatible recipient is found, the matching donor will be called in for the procedure. This is important because living tissue has greater longevity than an organ from a deceased donor, and, Ty says, many of those latter donated organs have to be destroyed due to limited viability.
The anonymous donor program also holds the incredible potential for organ “swaps.” If your kidney is more compatible with a person in need than a kidney currently waiting, yours will go to that person and the original kidney will be put back in the pool for the next best match.
Last year in Houston, a single living donor triggered a rare six-way swap that saved as many lives. Testing and technology is able to identify the best organ in the pool, whether it is from a family member or an anonymous donor.
TOSA assures potential donors that there is no need to be concerned about funeral arrangements. All mainstream religions endorse donation or leave it up to the individual. Even Pope Francis says, “As long as it is an unpaid, free act, it contributes to fostering a culture of life and is an expression of universal brotherhood.”
What You Can do
Talk to your loved ones and make sure you understand each others’ wishes. TOSA recommends even your extended family be aware of your decision because just one dissenting opinion in an emergency situation can terminate a donation. They believe it is important to maintain good relationships among family members.
If you are not quite ready to share your organs, Ty says it is a simple thing to support those who are waiting.
People on dialysis are, more often than not, unable to work and treatment can be that much more challenging for those who do not have family nearby. “I’ve seen folks finishing a treatment and they go outside in the heat, cold, and rain to wait for the city bus. It would be a blessing to those folks just to have a ride, or maybe an Uber so they can get home to be comfortable. Knowing that someone cares can offer a ray of hope while they wait for a new kidney.”
Ty says, if you are in need, the most important thing is to get your story out there. “One man walked around Disneyworld wearing a t-shirt that said, ‘I need a kidney’. Another man put up flyers at his barber shop. His barber got tested on the sly and was compatible. He didn’t tell anyone outside of the donor bank, and he still cuts the hair of the man who doesn’t know who saved his life.”