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Carroll County teen whose organs saved lives will be remembered during Donate Life event Saturday

After a fatal ATV accident, 19-year-old Debranne Martin of Taneytown donated her organs to people in need of a transplant. Through the donation of her lungs, heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys, Martin was able to save five lives, including the family’s next-door neighbor who had been on the kidney transplant waiting list, despite the odds of only a one percent chance of a match.
After a fatal ATV accident, 19-year-old Debranne Martin of Taneytown donated her organs to people in need of a transplant. Through the donation of her lungs, heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys, Martin was able to save five lives, including the family’s next-door neighbor who had been on the kidney transplant waiting list, despite the odds of only a one percent chance of a match.

The Donate Life Family Fun Run, an annual event held in celebration of those who provided healing and hope by donating organs, will be virtual for the second year in a row.

One family’s participation this weekend will pay tribute to their teen daughter, who saved five lives through organ donation.

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On St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, Debranne Martin of Taneytown was involved in a fatal ATV accident. She was only 19 years old. In the worst moment of their lives, Martin’s family made the decision to donate her organs to people in need of a transplant.

Through the donation of her lungs, heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys, Martin was able to save five lives, including the family’s next-door neighbor who had been on the kidney transplant waiting list, despite only a 1 percent chance of a match.

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“Deb was such a giving person in life,” Ashley Barber, Martin’s oldest sister, said. “She was constantly growing out her hair so she could donate it to others in need and donating blood. She also wanted to be a nurse so she could help people. … Although we miss her every day, we are grateful that she could continue to help others, which we know she would have wanted.”

Every year since her death, Martin’s family and friends are joined by her heart recipient at the annual Donate Life Family Fun Run 5K where they participate as Team Deb. This year marks the family’s 10th year of participation, and despite social distancing restrictions due to the pandemic, they have remained steadfast in their commitment, with over 30 team members participating virtually.

On race weekend, her family will come together at Martin’s grave to run a total of 3 miles in her honor, along the dirt road that they grew up on. The same road that her kidney recipient lives on still.

Barber said the event is “absolutely a great way to honor those who have donated organs, advocate for organ donation and awareness and promote healthy living.”

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The Family Fun Run is hosted by The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, the state’s organ procurement organization that facilitates organ, eye, and tissue donation as well as advocacy, family support and public and professional education.

While many lives are saved every day, there are about 2,600 Marylanders waiting for a lifesaving transplant, according to a news release. By registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor, one person has the potential to save eight lives through organ donation and enhance over 75 lives through tissue donation.

For the past 12 years, the LLF has hosted the event to celebrate and honor the gifts of organ, eye, and tissue donation. Rain or shine, donor families, transplant recipients, waitlist candidates, and donation supporters come together to walk or run for the cause.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be a virtual walk/run and although participants will not all be walking or running together, they are encouraged to walk or run from wherever they are.

“The virtual option makes it more personal. … Teams can run in a place that means something to them,” Barber said. This year, Team Deb will walk along a dirt road where the recipient of Martin’s kidney lives.

“She’s going to walk with us this year along with her husband,” Barber said.

Ieesha Johnson, manager of community outreach with LLF, said because the event is virtual, more people across the U.S. will be able to participate.

“We’re expecting about 2,000 people,” she said, with participants from every state and Puerto Rico. “We know people want to get together in-person but we’re ensuring there is still a connection” made through the screen.

The Fun Run (1K or 5K walk/run) kicks off live online via Facebook and YouTube Saturday at 9 a.m. and will continue with live updates, shout outs and giveaways through Monday.

For more information, to view the full weekend schedule or to register for free, please visit donatelifefunrun.org. For questions, please contact The LLF at familyfunrun@thellf.org or 410-242-7000.

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