Man tries to donate organs - now
by Ashley Fuller
afuller@cherokeetribune.com
July 25, 2010 12:00 AM | 8608 views | 13 13 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gary Phebus shows his muscles to his wife, Patricia, both of west Cherokee while she holds his breathing machine called a BiPAP on Friday. He has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and he wants to donate his organs but has been told that he must wait until his heart stops beating.<br>Photo by Samantha Wilson
Gary Phebus shows his muscles to his wife, Patricia, both of west Cherokee while she holds his breathing machine called a BiPAP on Friday. He has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and he wants to donate his organs but has been told that he must wait until his heart stops beating.
Photo by Samantha Wilson
slideshow
A west Cherokee County man wants to end his life so he might be able to improve the life of others.

Gary Phebus, 62, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, in 2008.

"I didn't want to believe it," he said about his diagnosis. "I didn't know the ramifications except that Lou Gehrig had died from it. I thought, 'How come me? How come I got it?' You think that happens to other people."

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. There is no cure or treatment that halts or reverses the disease.

Phebus started researching online to learn about organ donation. He learned about the long wait people endure for an organ transplant and came up with his idea.

He decided to donate his organs, but he wants to do it now, which would kill him.

"I have a death sentence. It is just a matter of time," he said. "I know people are waiting on organs. If I am going to die, why not - while my organs are still viable - go ahead and save five to 10 people."

Phebus talked it over with his wife, Patti, and his four children. He said they all are supportive of the idea.

"I feel it is the right thing to do. There is a lack of organs. I don't feel like it is suicide," he said. "I am trying to give other people a chance."

But there is a major roadblock for Phebus.

Federal law requires an individual pass away from brain death or cardiac death before becoming an organ donor, said Kaysha Cranon, public affairs coordinator for LifeLink of Georgia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant.

"I think it is wonderful that he wants to donate his organs," she added, noting there are more than 108,000 people on the national waiting list for an organ transplant.

In Georgia alone, there are more than 3,000 people waiting for an organ transplant.

Phebus said he wants to see a law passed that would allow someone in his position to donate organs while still alive.

State Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat) said he doesn't think such a law could gain support.

"It is very complicated," he said. "Something like that is certainly not a natural death. I really doubt if the General Assembly would consider something like that."

State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) said he would be willing to hear more about the case, but noted his opposition to physician-assisted suicide may prevent him from lending his support.

"In a way, it would be doctor-assisted suicide," he said. "If it, in fact, involves physician-assisted suicide, I could not support it."

Phebus said he not only wants to give the organs while they're viable, but also avoid years of medical bills and insurance claims.

"I'm dead anyway," he said. "I want to live, but I don't see any way out."
Comments
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Has Lyme
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August 01, 2010
PLEASE someone get information to this guy!

Lyme disease can cause ALS. He needs to see a Lyme Literate Dr. or look online for Studies being done right now with Lyme/ALS.

Antibiotics taken and they are getting better!!!

AND.... if this is a Lyme induced ALS, then..hey... Someone needs to let him know he can NOT give any organs away, or he will infect everyone else that gets them.

New's people... do the searching.. help this guy.

Thanks!
Lovingkindness
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July 30, 2010
Bless this man for what he wants to do. Since most people don't want to leave this life and their families, he is wanting to do a very unselfish and loving thing for everyone involved. My Mom just died from stage 4 cancer. A painful, lingering death is not something anyone should have to endure. I really wish there were more support for the Dying with Dignity Act. It's not suicide if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Marty Murray
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July 29, 2010
Tickedoff, I do have the facts. Anyone can solve als and people like your sister can solve cancer too if they are more aware of how to do it.

In fact I worked with someone whose wife had advanced breast cancer and within months she went into remission.

In addition, those supposedly requiring organ transplants can heal as well.

Anyone experiencing any disease can heal and any story to the contrary is just plain wrong.
canton,ga
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July 28, 2010
I will be praying for you and your family...my grandmother who was 85 yrs old died from ALS almost 12yrs ago. I will NEVER forget the way she looked at me when I had to say good bye for the last time. My grandmother lived in New York and I was 5 months pregant living in Atl...we both new that it was the last time we would see each other.I just held her and we both just cried. I know it is very hard on you and family I will be praying for you and I hope they find a cure one day soon...Stay strong!
tickedoff
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July 27, 2010
Marty, You are the one who is "off the mark". My sister had stage 4 breast cancer. She did everything to live. She ate organic foods, exercised, and positively believed that God would heal her of it. She never shed a tear and never felt sorry for herself. She died just 6 months after diagnosis.

Some people can live longer with ALS than other people, but there are different types. Do not make such blanket statements without the facts.
tickedoff
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July 27, 2010
Why is it that when a young person, with his or her whole life ahead of them, chooses to risk their own life in order to save others considered a hero, and yet this man who has a terminal illness is told that he can't give the gift of life to those on a transplant list? My brother died while waiting for an organ and each day many other people die while waiting.



Why should this man be denied his wish to shorten his own horrible disease and give the gift of life to those who have a good prognosis?

Each day doctors all over the country make the decision to end an unborn baby's life, just because the biological mother did not want it. Many couples are childless and wanting to adopt. Ultrasound has proven that these unborn babies have a heartbeat and brainwaves, yet their lives are terminated. One of them might have grown up to be the one who developed a cure for cancer, or ALS. Why the double standard?

Which is worse, to terminate a new potential life, or give the gift of life from a terminally ill man to those whose loved ones are praying for an organ? THIS should be his choice and doctors should not have a problem with it.

cederstrand
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July 27, 2010
check into some organizations that are affliated with leaving the USA and going to Amsterdam where they have some rationality left. I saw a Documentary about this on Vanguard TV. My first father in law died of ALS and when he was ready my husband, a local animal Vet and I saw that he had a painless transition at a time he chose. The government has no business telling us how we should die or live. You are doing a noble thing.
Marty Murray
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July 25, 2010
Actually, an als diagnosis is not a death sentence anyway. Als is completely solvable by applying mind body and holistic approaches. So this whole thing is off the mark.
kbt9
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July 25, 2010
my brother died of ALS and the last 6 months of his life was terrible. He really did not want to die but ALS does not care....it takes you very fast. I do understand why Gary wants to give his life for others because his life is really over due to the ALS....why should he not be able to give what he can... I don't think its a death ...but giving life....he will wind up suffering for many mothns and then it will be to late to give....i don't believe that you should kill yourself but when your going to die and your family sees you suffer. ITs a terrible thing. Maybe he could see about going out of the USA to do it....like england, somewhere that he could give over people a good life...May God Bless you Gary, I don't know you ...but i do know what ALS does to the body....
Kaebee
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July 25, 2010
Ridiculous that this man is not currently allowed to choose his own destiny. I applaud him, and his family, and hope that he opens some lines of communication about how "free" our country really is, if we cannot decide to leave this life before we suffer and force our families into suffering. What's the point of a "right to life" if you can't live the way you want, or die the way you want?
anonymous
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July 25, 2010
Why is it that Chip Rogers and Calvin Hill are not willing to support this mans wishes. He does not want to suffer nor does he want to bankrupt his family and he wants to help other human beings. Why is it that we are kinder to animals than we are to humans?
Unknown2010
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July 25, 2010
I agree with you 100%
reubenjo
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July 25, 2010


You guys should stop complaining cuz one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed give it a try u guys are too hard on democrats they went to college and we voted for most of these people.so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. as for obama people are just tryin to make it look like america made a mistake he has done things to help us and we had a full 8 years of a terrible president and i will be so as happy as ever when a obama fixes bush's mistakes. obama has to put up with the world judging his every move and trying to fix the mess we are in we are lucky anyone wants to be our president. STOP COMPLAINING AND GIVE HIM A BREAK. i wanna see one of yall do what he has done. some people are just so ignorant.

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