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My Angel Foundation is looking for organ donors


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Ted Cochran was flying high in the marketing profession in Chicago, knowing that he had something of a hobble weighing down his future.

During childhood, Cochran suffered an ailment that resulted in chronic renal failure. On Aug. 29, 2006, 20 years after his diagnosis, he had a kidney transplant, an event that changed his plans for a lofty career.

The search for a kidney ended with his mother. His pursuit of riches in the marketing profession came to an end with the realization that in order to repay his mother, he needed to help other people who found themselves in his situation.

Cochran returned to Greater Des Moines and launched My Angel Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that attempts to match people in need of organ transplants with donors.

At age 31, he has given up a marketing career to devote himself full time in the last year to promoting the foundation, working with the Iowa Donor Network to raise awareness about the need for transplant donors and to expand efforts to encourage volunteerism.

“I took this life-changing turn and it completely changed my priorities,” he said. “I was all about trying to get to the top. Now there are more important things.”

Cochran’s chief goal at the moment is to encourage people to mark “yes” on their driver’s license indicating that they will donate an organ. Prior to a change in state law in 2007, marking “yes” just meant that a person intended to be an organ donor. The change in law means that marking “yes” gives consent to have organs harvested.

National statistics show that though 90 percent of people responding to surveys say they support organ donation, a mere 30 percent are registered.

Cochran estimated that nearly 550 people are on transplant lists on any given day in Iowa. “The number changes daily,” he said.

In addition to promoting organ donation, Cochran also is about to launch a Web site called Dsmcares.com that promotes volunteering. Though “dsm” is an obvious abbreviation for Des Moines, it also stands for “do something meaningful,” he said.

“I think there is a good volunteer effort here,” he said. “We would like to make it great.”

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