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Move to St. Louis puts man at top of kidney transplant list

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - There is a huge disparity in the U.S. when it comes to organ transplants. How soon you get one depends partly on where you live. Experts say Missouri is one of the best states in the country for organ transplants. Marlon Sanders agrees. The 40-year-old actor and Ladue High School graduate was on a waiting list for kidney donations more than three years while living in Los Angeles; a city with an average wait time of five-to-eight years for patients in desperate need of the organs.

However, when Sanders moved to his hometown of St. Louis, he was placed at the top of the waiting list for kidneys; not because of his celebrity, but because he transferred his three and a half years worth of time served waiting on a list in L.A. to the Gateway City.

Sanders was on a waiting list for kidney donations in St. Louis less than two days when he received word a perfectly matched healthy organ had been found for him. "I'm extremely blessed. That's all I can say," said Sanders.

The average wait time for a kidney in St. Louis is two years. There are several reasons Sanders was able to get an organ donation much sooner in Missouri compared to California. Donna Smith, Director of Organ Procurement at Mid-America Transplant Services, an agency that facilitates the recovery of organ and tissue donations to help save the lives of 1500 people on a waiting list in the St. Louis region says "Part of that is driven by the size of the population in our community compared to California," said Smith.

She also adds St. Louisans are very generous when it comes to organ and tissue donations. For that, Sanders is thankful. He is also eternally grateful for his donor and his donor's family. "I owe them a huge thank you and I would love to say thank you."

To learn more about organ donation, click on Mid-America Transplant Services.

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