BREVARD COUNTY — It’s not often that you get a second chance at life, but for one Melbourne Beach resident, that chance means taking the opportunity to live life to the fullest.
Joey Parrish was only six years old when he received a liver transplant that saved his life from biliary atresia, a condition that causes cirrhosis of the liver and in which the bile ducts outside and inside the liver are scarred and blocked.
Now 21 years later, Mr. Parrish is trying to find new ways to connect with his donor’s family that lives in New York to let them know how grateful he is.
“I’ve tried to contact them a couple of times prior by sending letters, but I never heard back,” Mr. Parrish said. “I thought maybe by reaching out through social media and the media itself it might make a difference. I want them to see I’m using the organ they gave me to do good things with it, and not wasting my second chance at life.”
Mr. Parrish was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and moved to Tampa where he could pursue a master’s degree in anesthesia to become a certified anesthesiologist assistant from Nova Southeastern University.
Mr. Parrish said his ultimate goal in his career is to work with organ transplants, as it would allow him to help with a procedure that saved his life.
In the past, Mr. Parrish has participated in the Make A Wish Foundation 5K races and Sierra Nevada Donor Awareness Walk when he was living in Reno, Nevada for college.
Being on the receiving end of an organ transplant, Mr. Parrish said this life-changing experience has allowed him to travel, meet new people and practice medicine.
“In terms of talking to the family, I just want to say thank you and how thankful I am for everything they’ve given me,” Mr. Parrish said. “For the public, I'd like to get the message out there how important organ donation is and how many lives can be saved.”
According to Donate Life Florida’s website, 546,691 people were added to Florida’s registry in 2019, and Florida was ranked third in organ and tissue donor registry enrollment in the nation.
To register as a donor or learn more, visit www.donatelifeflorida.org.