Giving Back: It Takes Lives to Save Lives

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Jordy Robertson didn’t set out to be an activist.

In fact, if he had his druthers, the former Lutcher High School baseball player might be playing in the major leagues somewhere.

“I was a really good baseball player,” the Reserve native said.

But life threw Jordy a couple of curveballs — a baby when he was just a senior in high school, one who was born with a life-threatening liver disease that would make Jordy rethink all of his priorities.

Jordy Robertson and his son, J.J., promote organ donation.

Jordy Robertson and his son, J.J., promote organ donation.

Jordy is the father of Jarrius “J.J.” Robertson, 14, the small in stature but bigger than life young man who is taking America by storm.

Jarrius first won the hearts of the New Orleans Saints as their “Super Fan.” Now his fame is spreading. He has appeared on every local TV station and several national ones, including Good Morning America. ESPN followed him around for  nine weeks to produce a recent segment on its “Outside the Lines” program.

He is now a bonafide celebrity, making public appearances throughout the area, including a Sunday Saints Watch Party at the House of Blues in New Orleans, where he joined a lineup of fellow super fans in costume at a benefit for Angel’s Place, a charity that helps families of chronically ill children.

For Jordy, it’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. He loves seeing his son enjoying life and being the center of attention. He also sees an opportunity, not to make money, but to help spread the word about the importance of organ donation through his organization, It Takes Lives to Save Lives.

“It was started by me and Jarrius,” Jordy said. “We needed to come up with an idea to get the word out about him needing this transplant.”

Jarrius was born with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease found in infants. He received a partial liver transplant (a piece from a donor) and at 1 and spent a year in a coma. The disease stunted his growth to where J.J. looks like a young child.

But he’s 14 and an eighth grader and he needs a whole new liver to survive.

He certainly is not the only one. There are more than 120,000 patients currently on donor waiting lists, according to national donor web sites; 16,000 are awaiting liver transplants. As many as 22 people die every day waiting for a transplant.

According to Jordy, there are approximately 11 children battling a life-threatening disease and awaiting organ donations in the River Parishes.

The hard part is finding one. That’s where Jordy and Jarrius turned into activists.

“We couldn’t just sit around and wait for the hospital to find us a liver,” Jordy said. “We had to get the word out about organ donation and transplants. If I can touch somebody and help get the word out, it won’t just help Jarrius, it will help others and let people know what these kids are going through right here in our community.”

Jordy wants people to know how important organ donation is. He wants people to check the box on their driver’s license, but he also would like there to be a smart phone app, which will allow people he and Jarrius meet to sign up on the spot.

“A lot of people say they will sign up, but they don’t,” he said. “They forget about it.”

He said he has driven Interstate 10 from Texas to Mississippi and has never seen a billboard urging people to sign up for organ donation.

“It’s not just about people battling liver disease,” he said. “It’s for people who are fighting all kinds of diseases. It takes a life to save a life, to help somebody out. You don’t have to die to save somebody’s life. You can give blood. You can be a living donor. Jarrius is an inspiration to a lot of people, but we are inspired by a lot of people too.”

For more information about organ donation, visit