Man in hospital bed making heart with doctor’s hand (photo by iStock)
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: March/April 2023

Learn about the difference organ donors make, and get advice for healthier ways to fuel your body. 

Life Savers
April is National Donate Life Month, a time to recognize the generosity of those who have given others hope by becoming registered organ donors.

In Ohio, there are more than 3,000 people on the waiting list for a life-saving organ, and across the country, one person is added to that list every 10 minutes. Ohioan Jacques Smith knows firsthand what that wait is like.

After being diagnosed with primary biliary cholangitis, an autoimmune disease of the liver, Smith underwent a series of treatments, yet the illness progressed. In 2016, he went on the waiting list for a liver at age 47. On March 2, 2018, he received one, thanks to an organ donor. Today, he is a board member, volunteer and speaker for Ohio-based Lifebanc, one of the country’s original organ-procurement agencies.

“It’s my passion to make sure people understand that being a donor is a great thing,” says Smith, who lives in Beachwood. “It’s about … giving someone another chance at life.”

One organ donor can save up to eight lives, explains Donna Ferchill, Lifebanc’s senior director of clinical services, and you can easily register to become one while renewing your vehicle registration and driver’s license or online any time. Parents can have a conversation about organ donation with teens who are getting their license, and there is no age limit on donors.

“Hospitals are working hard to get education out there,” Ferchill says, “so talk to your family, your church, social clubs.”

There are misconceptions related to organ donation. One is that if you are listed as an organ donor, a doctor won’t try as hard to save your life in the event of an accident. That isn’t true. It is also important to know you can become a living donor for a loved one, and it is not limited only to kidney donation.

“We can split a liver and it regrows in the donor and the recipient,” Ferchill says.


Eat Right
Drop the dieting mentality and begin adopting these healthy habits that can help you achieve success when it comes to properly fueling your body. 

Ditch the low-fat labels, stop obsessing over every calorie and break up with the dieting mentality. For those seeking a nutritional upgrade, it’s time take to look at daily habits that can be sustained over the weeks, months and years ahead.

“One of the biggest things that has changed in nutrition science is a shift from eating less to looking at what foods help fuel metabolism to support health,” says Samantha Cochrane, a registered dietitian nutritionist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Eating balanced meals and snacks over the course of the day is key for a healthy metabolism.

Cochrane offers some practical advice to help you sustain healthy eating habits and add foods throughout the day that are key to boosting calorie burn. 

Know What You Need. “Previously, we were focused on eating fewer calories, but that doesn’t always equate to better health,” Cochrane says. Not giving our bodies enough fuel is a common misstep. “What’s enough? That depends on the person. The 2,000 calories per day may not fit everyone. Activity level and age play into the equation. Do not go hungry, Cochrane says, which is when you can make unwise food choices.  

Strategize Snacks. Especially when working from home, skipping meals and reaching for a handful of this or that is unfulfilling and racks up empty calories that don’t fuel your body. “Plan snacks so you are not left with choosing what’s most convenient in moments when you are hungry,” Cochrane says. Plan meals by starting at the perimeter of the grocery store, where you’ll find many whole foods, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. 

Eat In. “It’s easy to become reliant on [delivery] services and quick takeout options, but when that is a huge part of your week, it’s a surefire way to eat less vegetables and fruit, and more calories, fat and sugar,” Cochrane says. If you’re already reliant on restaurant meals, set a goal to taper. “When you do regular grocery trips, you can plan for more meals at home and make it flexible,” she adds. 

Fill Up on H20. Another common oversight is not drinking enough water. Aim to consume at least 64 ounces each day to feel your best and maintain metabolism momentum. “I suggest keeping a water bottle around because it’s easy to not drink enough when it’s not around us or available,” Cochrane says. 

Keep Moving. Aside from what you consume, consider how activity helps to sustain your metabolism. “Movement is underrated in supporting your health,” Cochrane says, “and it’s something we really need to put on the same level as watching what we eat.”

Take It Slow. “It’s unadvisable to do a complete overhaul,” Cochrane says. “That’s when we can get into trouble.” Start slow, such as limiting takeout and stocking up on foods for healthier meal and snack choices. “Leave that all-or-nothing mentality behind and take it one meal at a time, one day at a time.”