About twenty people die each day in the United States waiting for a life-saving transplant organ that never comes -- because too few of us are donors. When an organ does become available doctors have only a few hours to get it from the donor to the recipient. Each minute is crucial as they work to take just one patient off the transplant list. DYING TO LIVE captures a year in the lives of four people waiting to become sick enough to reach the top of the list.
Kevin seems like a typical suburban father until you learn that his life might be cut short due to a defective liver duct. Each time his duct fails he comes dangerously close to death but his doctors are able to stabilize his condition long enough that he's never eligible for a transplant. Katherine discovered her liver would eventually fail during a routine physical more than a decade ago, just before she and her husband Roy were married. Now she's caught in a medical limbo. Thirty-one-year-old Andrew was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure two years ago and is reminded that his call might never come each time he receives dialysis. Myrna knows she's fortunate to have the support of her loving husband, sister and lifelong friends, as her prospect of receiving a new kidney seems more and more doubtful. DYING TO LIVE follows their uncertain medical paths as they meet with doctors at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia waiting for organ transplants.
Interlaced with the stories of patients like Myrna, the filmmakers chronicle the often times complex decision of becoming an organ donor. Barbara Kilgore, a teaching nurse at Emory Adventist Hospital learns of Andrew's plight and though they have never met, agrees to donate her own kidney after learning she is a blood match.
Twenty-one-year-old Chase Christman suffered a fatal brain injury while at work and his family is determined to carry out his wish to be an organ donor. Katherine won't find out until weeks after recovery from surgery that her liver transplant was the result of Chase's tragic death when she's given the rare opportunity to meet with his family. During the meeting the Christman's find some relief in coping with Chase's death knowing Katherine, and the others who received an organ from Chase are healthy and alive today.
Their meeting is just one of the many emotional highlights in these interwoven stories of remarkable people. Their moments of joy and sadness may shake you, may make you laugh or make you cry, but you will never forget them. Doctors and other medical experts also share insightful advice and dispel common myths for anyone thinking of becoming an organ donor.