ETMC tree lighting celebrates transplant program

From the East Texas Medical Center:

TYLER, TX - East Texas Medical Center Tyler will celebrate its 26th annual Christmas tree lighting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m., with a Tyler man who received a kidney from a living donor.

David Travis, who's the chief financial officer at ETMC Athens, was transplanted in October with a living kidney donation from his childhood friend, Neil Patterson, who's from the Fort Worth area. Travis was diagnosed 13 years ago with kidney problems, and in the past few years reached a point where he needed a transplant. Patients are put on a waiting list, but also are encouraged to seek out family or friends who might be a match and qualify to be a living donor.

"I was humbled and grateful that my friend stepped forward to give me one of his kidneys," said Travis. "His life- saving gift was the best present I could have received this holiday season. I am honored to light the ETMC Christmas tree to remind everyone of the importance of organ donation and to celebrate ETMC's commitment to kidney transplantation." Travis has worked at ETMC Athens for 23 years. He's been married for 29 years to his wife, Jennifer, and has two grown children, Adam and Julie.

Since 1987, the ETMC Transplant Center has helped 677 patients receive a path to a better life with a kidney transplant.

Performing holiday music will be the East Texas Men In Harmony. The group is comprised of men from all over the region and is affiliated with the International Barbershop Harmony Society. Also presenting their Christmas Spectacular show will be the award-winning Robert E. Lee High School Southern Belles.

Santa and two of his real reindeer will greet children on the front lawn of the hospital from 5-7 p.m. If you would like to have a photo, please bring your own camera. The tree lighting ceremony will begin around 5:30 p.m.

This is the fourth year for ETMC to use its living Christmas tree, which was planted as part of the Tree Tyler initiative, created by Mayor Barbara Bass to promote tree conservation. Each year, an ETMC-related patient with a special story serves as the hospital's tree lighting ambassador.