Debi Plamondon was riding with the wind as she pedaled her bike Wednesday down Padre Boulevard, and every turn was for a good cause.
This wasn’t the first time she participated the Tour de Padre bike tour and pub crawl, which takes participants to different Island restaurants. Plamondon, a Winter Texan from Maine, said she and her partner, Phil Baker, had done the tour together in 2009.
But this time she was riding alone, remembering him and at the same time helping to educate people about becoming a life-saving organ donor as a registered donor.
Plamondon, also the ambassador for the state of Maine for donors, organized Wednesday’s event to remember Baker, who died five months after a lung transplant. She said he had pulmonary fibrosis and initially was told he would only live two months without a transplant.
His life was extended by five months after receiving a transplant.
“I really saw the benefit that a transplant can do for people,” Plamondon said. “Then I became an advocate for organ transplants.”
She still carries a photo in her phone of the helicopter that flew to the hospital with the lung for Baker, 72, who received his transplant last year at DukeUniversityHospital.
But he never fully recovered after the operation.
“It was something special to see that helicopter fly in,” Plamondon said. “Hopefully more and more people will donate, and we will not need to wait for organs in the future.”
In Baker’s case, he didn’t have to wait very long after he was cleared for a lung transplant. Others wait for years.
By RAUL GARCIA Staff Writer