Living Donor Transplant Survivor Takes Center Stage at Giants’ Donate Life Game

10-year-old Mason is swinging for the fences and raising awareness of the importance of organ donation.

10-year-old Mason stands on the Giants' field at AT&T Park where he catches a baseball that is tossed to him. He is a recipient of a living donor transplant.

Photo courtesy of Donor Network West

All eyes were on 10-year-old Mason Patel. Nothing would start until he uttered those time-honored words.

“Play ball!” Mason called into the microphone, and the crowd erupted with cheers. 

As this year’s Play Ball Kid, Mason represented organ donor recipients at the San Francisco Giants’ 24th Annual Organ Donor Awareness Day on Aug. 30, also known as Donate Life Day.  

At the game, Mason’s kidney donor stood proudly by his side–his mother, Sital. 

Mason was born with enlarged kidneys and by his first birthday, his kidneys began to go into failure.

“When I got called that I was a match, it was just relief,” Sital said. “Your kid needs it to live… anyone would do it too.”

Ten years ago, few centers were transplanting for patients that young. Mason did have to wait until he reached the minimum required weight of 22 pounds. On Feb. 14, 2014, at 16 months old, Mason received a kidney transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

“We celebrate kidneys rather than hearts on Valentine’s Day,” Sital said. “We each have one of my kidneys–thanks to technology and science and all the great doctors at Packard Children’s that made it happen.”

Receiving a kidney from a living donor increases the chances of success. Deceased-donor recipients suffer from acute organ rejection twice as much as living-donor recipients within the first three years.

Mason is living proof—he’s now a Triple A Little League ballplayer who also enjoys flag football, good food, and traveling. 

“He’s such a special kid, but he’s also like any other kid. He does things like everyone else,” Sital said. 

“When I see a kid like Mason on the field, it means we’re delivering on the promise an organ donor made,” said Josh Gossett, director of the Pediatric Transplant Center at Packard Children’s Hospital. “I don’t think a lot of people really understand what it means and what they can do to help somebody, and an event like this is a good opportunity to create excitement around organ donation.”

“People might be afraid to be a living donor because they’ve probably heard about lifestyle changes and risks,” Sital said. “But there’s nothing in my life that I think, oh I can’t do that. I don’t feel limited at all.” 

Learn more about how to become a living donor. Read our Pediatric Kidney Transplant FAQ for Donors.


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