Nick News with Linda Ellerbee hears from kids and families who have been affected by organ donation in the half-hour special, "A Gift of Life," premiering Sunday, Sept. 18, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. Beginning Monday, Sept. 19, the special will be available on Nick.com and on iTunes as a free podcast.
There are more than 2,000 kids in the U.S. waiting for organ transplants because their own organs are failing. The success rate for people who have received donated organs is 80 to 90 percent, but the demand is higher than the number of donors.
"Organ donation isn't an easy subject to discuss with family," said Ellerbee. "But kids aren't only the recipients. They are also donors, so it's important for families to educate themselves on the topic. There may be an opportunity to save a life or even lives."
Tyler, 17, from Grand Prairie, Texas, was born with cystic fibrosis and has been waiting seven months for a double lung and liver transplant. The hospital will alert him of a potential donor via a pager, which he checks every 5 to 10 minutes. "I'm fighting every day," says Tyler. "I'm not a quitter. I have big plans...I'm going to be sad because somebody else's organs that are inside me that passed away. But then again, it's giving me an opportunity to live." Tyler recently launched an e-book to educate multicultural audiences about organ donation and coping with serious illness.
Madison, 13, from Roanoke, Va., was healthy until she noticed her eyes had turned yellow. She was diagnosed with liver failure, and the only way for her to stay alive was a liver transplant. Her older brother, Jordan, 19, was a match to be a living donor, someone who can give part of an organ that regenerates while still functioning as they did before. Jordan says, "I was proud of myself. I gave my liver to one of the closest people to me, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
"My donor's name was Johnny Hernandez," says Michael, 14, from Oakland, Calif. "He died at the age of 18 in a motorcycle accident." In addition to sharing an interest in the Oakland Raiders, playing the same position in Pop Warner football and enjoying chocolate chip peanut butter ice cream, Michael now has Johnny's liver. Michael and his mom now pay the gift forward with Mikey's Meals, an organization they started to feed the homeless in Oakland, which has now fed over 4,000 people in the area.
After watching the movie, Seven Pounds, Santos, then 16, told his family he wanted to be an organ donor. He passed away two weeks later, and his mother honored his wish by donating his organs, saving four people's lives. His sister, Kassandra, says, "It's very sad losing a brother, a son, but you know there's a good feeling that you gave the recipient a second chance of life and they're living because of the organs that he donated."
Nick News, produced by Lucky Duck Productions, is now in its 20th year and is the longest-running kids' news show in television history. It has built its reputation on the respectful and direct way it speaks to kids about the important issues of the day. Over the years, Nick News has received more than 21 Emmy nominations and recently won its ninth Emmy Award for Under the Influence: Kids of Alcoholics in the category of Outstanding Children's Nonfiction Program.