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Finding hope, finding organs: How donating organs helps save lives

Once the Assistant Attorney General in New Jersey, Terry Merced is now retired and living in North Carolina but finds himself in need of a kidney. In the first part of our three-part series on the importance of organ donations, Terry shares some of the fear and anxiety from battling the illness and being on a transplant list.

Diagnosed with End Stage Renal (Kidney) Disease Terry says he may one day need dialysis but getting a kidney with only 11-percent of it currently functioning will help more long term.

“A kidney transplant is an alternative which literally can get me functioning back to normal,” said Merced.

Terry was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1953 and lived in Elizabeth, Union County, graduated High School in 1971 before moving on to earn his degree in English/Education at Saint Peter’s University.

After teaching for seven years in Elizabeth of which he also earned a law degree at Seton Hall University School of Law, he began a 25-year career working for the State of New Jersey.

Terry worked as an attorney for the State of New Jersey, in the Office of the Public Defender, was promoted to Deputy Defender and was in charge of the Monmouth County Regional Office.

He also worked for the Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice where he was Bureau Chief and was later assigned as the Chief of the Major Narcotics Bureau.

Terry was later promoted to Assistant Attorney General in New Jersey.

He lived briefly in Manalapan until 1999 before moving into Ocean County.

Battling health issues throughout his life, Merced was born with congenital heart disease which was repaired with open heart surgery in 1998 and then in 2014.

He’s since been diagnosed with Stage Five Kidney Failure which is why he needs an organ transplant.

On the list for months now at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, he hopes they’ll find a match soon.

“That’s the hardest part of this whole thing,” said Merced. “It’s the waiting that’s difficult because there’s no telling when it’ll happen. Many people who are in my stage are already on dialysis.”

A prideful man, he says he doesn’t want to let others know that he’s in pain.

“I try not to show how I feel somedays,” said Merced. “Somedays you just don’t feel like getting out of bed but you do. I try not to show it and people almost forget or don’t even know that I have it.”

Merced says one of the hardest parts of having the disability is not being able to do all of the things that he used to be able to.

He says he’s just one of thousands who need a kidney transplant right now.

“There’s over 100,000 people waiting for a kidney each year who are right now on the list,” said Merced. “Somewhere between 17 and 20 people a day die because they can’t or don’t get a kidney.”

It’s not just his kidney he’s concerned about though, but the many others who need your help.

“Even if people aren’t interested in donating for me, you can donate to anybody or just donate anonymously,” said Merced. “You can save so many lives.”

He encourages everyone to check off the organ donor box when renewing their license as one way to help.

“By giving something they can have such an impact on lives,” said Merced. “They can affect my life, my families life, my friends life…everything with just that one gift of life.”

If you’re looking to donate to Terry and wish to learn more about his need call the Renal and Pancreatic Transplant Program at 212-305-6469 at New York-Presybertian Columbia University Medical Center If you decide you would like to help Terry.

They ask you to then state that you would like to be tested as a possible donor for Terry Merced.

*Tomorrow in Part-Two of our Three-Part series we take a look at some of the statistics of organ donations and what criteria you need to have in order to donate.

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