When Ed Draves learned that he could save a life by being a living organ donor, he was glad to give. “It’s one of the better decisions that I’ve ever made,” Ed said of his choice to donate a kidney. 

A lifelong Western New York resident, Ed and his wife have a son and daughter. He has worked as a wine salesman for 26 years. 

Ed is a member of Western Star Masonic Lodge No. 1185 in Lackawanna. He joined "to work with other people for the common good. There's a lot of charity work involved with the Masons."

His path to donation began when he read of a brother Mason, Gary Garippo, who was suffering from polycystic kidney disease and was in need of a kidney transplant. "Several brothers [in the Masonic community] offered to help,” Ed said. “I just happened to be the brother that was the best match."

Now, more than two years after the transplant, both Ed and Gary are doing well. "I was surprised at how well recovery went and I would do it again," Ed said.

Donation and Recovery

Gary was a patient at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. After making the choice to be a donor, Ed traveled there on days off of work. The living donation process includes protections to make sure the donor is physically and mentally able to give. "They put you through all the tests and they ask you tough questions," Ed recalled. “The medical professionals are in place to make sure that you are truly giving a spare. There's no negative impact on my health from it."

The kidney donation process and Ed’s recovery went well, even better than he expected. "I had surgery on a Friday. I was home on Sunday. I was mall walking on Monday and going out to eat.”

Asked if he’s made changes since the donation, Ed answered, "Only positive things. I’m careful to practice healthy hydration.” 

The preparations for the donation revealed a couple of minor health issues Ed hadn’t been aware of previously. Because of the process, he’s better able to monitor and address those issues. "I'm more careful about my health," he said.

Raising Awareness

The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York is partnering with organ and blood donation groups around the state, helping to fill a crucial need. Masons in Western New York have partnered with Unyts on this campaign.

Ed was initially hesitant to call attention to his own choice to donate, but shares his story to show that living donation is less intimidating than people may think. "It's something I would do again," he said.

As part of the Masonic Blood and Organ Donor Program, Ed and Gary will participate in an educational event at the Boulevard Mall from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21. Masons with a personal connection will join representatives from Unyts to share information about donor registration, living donation and blood donation. 

“I want to put stories out there for people so they can see that this is a person who could be their neighbor," said Ed. He noted that many people may know someone in waiting for an organ and not even realize it. "We have a lot of people in need, and we have a lot of people dying needlessly."

New York State currently has a lower percentage of registered organ donors than any other state. “I'd like to be part of turning that around and making New York one of the leading states," said Ed.

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