By Rick Davenport
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Fifteen years ago, Ty Gipson received the phone call he was waiting for. In a matter of hours, the 30-year-old was meeting a private jet at Georgetown Municipal Airport (KGTU). He was flown to the Jefferson County Airport in Beaumont to pick up his mother and then on to Baltimore for a double-organ transplant.
A motor vehicle fatality had just occurred, and the victim was the donor of a perfectly matched pancreas. His 60-year-old mother (also a perfect match) had insisted on donating one of her kidneys if the time came.
The time was now and there was no time to spare. The risky surgery was Ty’s only chance at survival.
“Having this network of general aviation airports saved my life,” Gipson proclaims.
After 15 hours in a Maryland hospital operating room, Ty immediately began feeling better. No longer would the type I diabetes — that he endured since the age of 8 — ravage his body.
“It was like living in a world of only black and white and suddenly the world changed into vivid colors,” he says, describing how organ donation not only saves lives, but allows the recipient the chance at living life.
Given a second chance, Gipson began a new, healthy journey and started doing a lot of community and volunteer work. Predictably, he is most passionate about organ donation education. He works with the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (http://www.txorgansharing.org/) by telling his story, urging others to consider it.
And in May, he was elected to the Georgetown City Council.
“It’s ironic that Georgetown Municipal is in the district I represent. One of my goals is to make sure the airport has the funding it needs so it can continue to contribute to our economic development. Yes, the airport has a very special place in my heart,” he says.