SDSU meningitis victim’s organs save 5 lives

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Sarah Stelzer (Facebook)

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State University student Sara Stelzer, who died of meningitis Saturday, helped save five lives by being a registered organ donor.

Though organ transplants can save lives, finding organs can be a challenge because they are in high demand. Every 10 minutes a new patient is added to the list of those in need of an organ, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, KPBS reported.

Dr. Barry Browne is a transplant surgeon at Sharp Memorial Hospital. Although he wasn’t involved with the Stelzer case, he explained on Monday why there was confusion about when Stelzer, 18, died.

“Some people are on life-support, but they’re actually dead and those are the people who go on to become organ donors,” Browne told KPBS. “There are some people who are on life-support and their brain is still working a little bit. Those people are not dead.”

There were news reports late Thursday night that Stelzer had died, but SDSU officials said she died early Friday. Later that day, university officials said she was still on life support so her organs could be donated. On Monday, SDSU and county health officials said she died on Saturday.

Anyone wanting information about organ, eye and tissue donation should go to Donate Life California.

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