The situation for those awaiting organ transplants is a difficult one, according to musician and transplant recipient Curtis Salgado.
“If you make the wrong choice, you’re dead,” he said bluntly. Salgado spoke to The Reader by phone from his home in Portland, Ore.
Salgado performs in Omaha Sunday, Aug. 31, at the Tribute to Walter Trout concert event, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the River City Star, 151 Freedom Park Road on the riverfront. Salgado sits in with the Brad Cordle Band featuring Tim Scott. The Walter Trout Band headlines the event, featuring Trout’s protégé, British blues guitar sensation Danny Bryant and Trout’s son Jon. They are touring under the banner of A Tribute to Walter Trout.
Other guests include guitarist Nick Schnebelen of Trampled Under Foot and The Laurie Morvan Band from California plus more local and regional artists. The event is a collaboration between the Blues Society of Omaha and Playing With Fire with support from local organizations. See playingwithfireomaha.net for details. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance at The 21st Saloon or on show day at the gate at the River City Star.
It’s a day of music and information to raise awareness about the need for organ donors. Donate Life Nebraska will be on hand with educational materials and to sign up those interested in becoming organ donors. One donor can potentially save eight lives and help up to 50 people, according to Donate Life Nebraska’s statistics. But the reality is there are just not enough people signed up as organ donors. In 2013, 6,650 people died nationwide waiting for an organ transplant, an average of 18 people each day. For more information see donatelifenebraska.org.
Curtis Salgado received a life-saving liver transplant at the Nebraska Medical Center’s Lied Transplant Center on Sept. 30, 2006. Earlier that year his career plans were brought up short by the news that he had liver cancer and only months to live without a transplant.
“It’s a huge ‘what if,’ you’ve got all these paths to take and choices to make…if you pick the wrong one, you’re dead,” said Salgado. He found the help and life-saving care he needed in Omaha.
The process of even getting on the list for a donor organ is complex and stressful. Not everyone is medically eligible. Each transplant center maintains its own list. The patient needing a transplant must apply separately to each possible transplant center. Each center does its own tests, so the patient and family are racking up bills before they even know if the hospital in question will accept them onto that hospital’s transplant list.
In the last year, guitarist Walter Trout found himself in this situation, with a limited amount of time to get a liver transplant. The national and international blues community networked, donated and followed Walter and wife Marie Trout’s story.
Because of Salgado’s positive experience here, he recommended the Trouts talk to Omaha’s Lied Transplant Center.
They did, but Walter Trout’s situation became a statistical anomaly, he ended up waiting over two months at the Omaha Center for an organ match.
“It is like a walk to Hell and back,” said Marie Trout about the wait for a match and the shortage of organ donors. “That is the feeling: powerlessness and desperation.”
Walter Trout finally received a liver transplant on Memorial Day, 2014, and has been recovering in Omaha.
The Aug. 31 concert event was organized out of Marie Trout’s desire to raise awareness for the need for organ donors.
“Many people die waiting,” observed Marie Trout. “80% of Americans think that organ donation is something they should do. Yet only 43% of Americans have signed up as donors. We are hoping to help create awareness and offer easy sign-up options...Telling our stories about how organ donation has changed our lives and given us hope…We were so thankful to our Memorial Day hero: the donor who gave Walter a new chance at life, and who in his death saved many lives.”
Funds raised at the event will go to Trout’s band members who were out of work for many months after Trout became too sick to perform.
The Nick Schnebelen Band (Trampled Under Foot's guitarist) hits The 21st Saloon Thursday, Aug. 28. Vocalist Sena Ehrhardt has a CD release party for her new Blind Pig disc, Live My Life, Thursday, Sept. 4. Both shows are 6-9 p.m.
Paladins and Hacienda Brothers guitarist/vocalist Dave Gonzalez brings the Dave Gonzalez Band to Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Thursday, Aug. 28, 6-9 p.m. and Friday, Aug. 29, for the 5-7 p.m. early show. John Nemeth is up at the Zoo next Wednesday, Sept. 3, 6-9 p.m. See zoobar.com for more national acts coming in September.