Posts Tagged ‘donate life’

Emory CEOs Dedicate Roses Honoring Organ Donation on Donate Life Rose Parade Float

John Fox signs a message on a rose for Donate Life Dedication Garden

Emory Healthcare CEO, John Fox, writes a handwritten message on a rose, which will be attached to the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Thousands of roses, all with personalized messages, create the Donate Life Dedication Garden.

While the New Year is still a couple of months away, Emory is already gearing up for the first day of 2014. That’s because two Emory transplant patients and an Emory transplant surgeon have plans to ring in the New Year in Pasadena, California.

Emory Transplant Center patients Julie Allred, an islet cell recipient, and Amy Tippins, a liver recipient, have been invited to ride on the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade on Jan. 1. The float, with the 2014 theme of “Light Up the World,” honors donors, recipients and their families who have been involved with organ, eye or tissue donation.

Festivities kicked off this week when John Fox, CEO of Emory Healthcare, and Robert Bachman, CEO of Emory University Hospital, wrote touching messages thanking donors and their families for giving the gift of life. Dr. Thomas Pearson, director of the Emory Transplant Center and transplant surgeon, joined in the Rose Dedication event.

The handwritten messages are attached to individual vials that hold the roses on the float. Thousands of roses, all with personalized messages, create the Donate Life Dedication Garden.

“The rose dedication is one way we can honor donors, recipients and their families with personal messages of love, hope and remembrance,” says Bachman. “We pay great tribute to the patients and their families for their commitment to organ donation in a time of hardship.”

Dr. Nicole Turgeon, transplant surgeon and surgical director of the Paired Donor Exchange Program, will help decorate this year’s Donate Life float in California, along with Julie and Amy who will ride on the float with 28 other organ and tissue recipients.

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From a Life of Giving to Giving the Gift of Life

Michael (Mike) Beller wanted to make a real difference in the lives of others. He didn’t want to help just one person, he wanted to help as many people as he could. So Mike decided to altruistically donate one of his kidneys, which was the kickoff to a kidney transplant chain that has effected people in Atlanta to Wisconsin and beyond.

As the son of missionaries in Mexico, Mike grew up believing he had the responsibility to give back. He currently serves as Chief of Investigations for the Chamblee Police Department, and formerly served as an Army ranger. He is also the father of 5 children.

“It’s amazing,” says transplant surgeon Dr. Nicole Turgeon, “he’s lived a life where he has been giving, to his family, to his job and to his country.”

Last winter Mike started thinking abut donating a kidney. He found an article on the internet about the National Kidney Registry.

“There are 90,000 people in this country that need a kidney and there’s 1000s of them every year that die without one”, says Mike.

The National Kidney Registry matches people who need a kidney and have a willing donor who is not a match for them, with someone who is a match; therefore, connecting together a chain of transplants with p aired donors across the country.

In paired donation, an incompatible donor and recipient pair is matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair, and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs. By giving their kidneys to unknown, but compatible, individuals, the donors can provide two or more patients with healthy kidneys where previously no transplant would have been possible.

Mike decided he wanted to be the person to start one these chains.

“If he gave to one person, that would be great but this would allow him the possibility to maybe help two, three, five, six, and in some chains we see even up to 50 or 60 people involved,” says Dr. Turgeon.

On August 1st, Mike donated his healthy kidney that was immediately flown by passenger jet to Madison, Wisconsin to save the life of a recipient. Mike’s gift would then trigger another transplant in Pennsylvania, and then another in South Carolina and so the chain goes on.

Two and a half weeks later Mike returned to work and is doing well.

Says Mike, “I can’t think of anything else you could do that could help another human being this effectively.

Mike’s story was recently featured on Fox 5 News. You can learn more about this tremendous gift by watching the video below:

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Donate Life Month – Pros & Cons of Organ Donation

Since 2003, April has served as National Donate Life Month and provided the health and transplant communities with an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help support and raise awareness around organ donation.

Currently more than 115,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants to save their lives. They’re in need of hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs, and other organs which can all be transplanted if donors were available, giving them a second chance at life. Understandably, potential donors may have reservations about organ donation, but we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to help you with your decision of the gift of life.

Pros:

  • ONE organ donor can save up to EIGHT lives. There are nearly 115,000 men, women and children waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. By registering to become an organ donor, you can help save lives!
  • For the transplant recipient, it is a second chance at life. For some, an organ transplant means no longer having to be dependent on costly routine treatments to survive. It allows many recipients to return to a normal lifestyle.
  • For the family of the deceased donor, they feel a sense of goodness that came from a tragedy – that if the organs are transplanted into a young, deserving person, then their loss was not in vain. Donor families take some consolation in knowing that some part of their loved one continues in life.
  • Living Donation – It is possible to donate organs while you are still alive. Living people can donate a kidney, portions of the liver, lung, pancreas and intestines, as well as blood, and go on to live healthy lives. Most often it is relatives who do living tissue donation. It is possible, however, to register for completely humanitarian reasons and give organs to a stranger.

Cons:

  • Families might be confused by the fact that donor bodies are often kept on life support while the tissues are removed. Surgeons do not remove any tissues unless the person is brain dead, but they sometimes put the body on a ventilator to keep the heart pumping fresh blood into the tissues to keep them alive long enough to harvest. This is not the same as life, but there is a moment when the ventilator is removed and the heart stops.
  • Another “con” might be that the donor does not usually get to choose who the organs go to, and perhaps an organ will go to someone of a different faith, political viewpoint or temperament than the donor. The donor has to believe that all life is sacred and that anyone who receives the “ultimate gift” of a donor organ will be grateful and be imbued with a sense of gratitude and a desire to pay it forward.

To become a donor and for more information visit Donate Life today.

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Sherrell Gay Receives the Gift of Life Just in Time to Witness New Life

Sherrell Gay, Double Transplant Patient

Sherrell Gay

If you remember reading about kidney transplant recipient Ken Sutha and his participation in the U.S. Transplant Games, you might also remember reading about Sherrell Gay, who received her heart at the Emory Heart Transplant Center and also participated in the games. In fact, Sherrell celebrated the 8-year anniversary of her transplant procedure during the Games’ closing ceremonies.

Although Sherrell (who’s originally from Waynesboro, GA) received her first heart transplant a decade ago, for the past 18 months, she has been on the waiting list for another heart due to allograph vasculopathy, a fairly common long-term complication from heart transplant. Allograph vasculoplasty is known more commonly as chronic rejection, which can develop in transplanted hearts at any time – soon after transplant or many years later. The small vessels in the heart become blocked first and as the disease progresses, the larger vessels can become blocked too. “I was diagnosed with allograph vasculpathy at my 7 year annual post-transplant appointment,” Sherrell recalls. “I was treated with medication for 1 ½ years and then the team decided the disease had progressed too far to benefit from drug therapy and I needed to be evaluated for another heart transplant.”

Both throughout her first heart transplant journey and while Sherrell was hospitalized for a portion of 2012, her kidney function continued to decline. “As my wait time continued, my kidney failure worsened, as did my heart function,” Sherrell recalls. Emory’s kidney transplant team was asked to consult on her case, and they concluded that after Sherrell had spent 10 years on immunosuppressants and her kidney function was in decline for almost a decade, her kidneys were in end stage kidney failure. They added Sherrell to the kidney transplant waiting list, knowing that the other option was a potential lifetime on dialysis following her next heart transplant.

Thankfully, Sherrell was contacted about her waiting list status and learned she would be receiving her new heart and two kidneys from the same organ donor. “On the day I got the call there were organs matched for me, I had to start emergency continual dialysis. The organs became available at just the right time,” she says, and “by doing both organs from the same donor, I stood a better chance at successfully living healthy.”

On December 9, 2012, Sherrell received her successful double organ transplant and is now recovering and doing well. Dr. Duc Nguyen performed her heart transplant first, and Dr. Paul Tso performed her kidney transplant immediately after.

While Gay spent much of 2012 at Emory, this mother of two daughters and one son never missed a chance to help cheer up and educate other candidates and recipients and families about the transplant process from her bedside, except, of course, when she was most sick. (At the worst point, she suffered two heart attacks and was placed on emergency peritoneal dialysis.) If such a thing were awarded, Gay would win the Oscar for the Best Advocate Ever for Organ Transplantation.

“I am extremely grateful for my donor family who made the decision to make that donation of life — we got the best gift that day,” says Gay, who also helps lead the Georgia Transplant Foundation Mentor Project.

We are very glad to hear about Sherrell’s remarkable recovery and send her best wishes on her continued recovery and on the upcoming arrival of her first grandbaby. Thanks to her double organ transplant, Sherrell is now well enough to be by her daughter Tracy’s side when she gives birth at the end of March.

The gift of life just in time to witness the gift of a new life; now that is a transplant miracle.

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Donate Life Month “Thank You” from Joe Persichetti

Joe Persichetti transplant patient
Dear Donor Family,

It has been eight years since my life saving heart transplant, and once again, I want to thank my donor and donor family for the gift of life.

I suffered my first of three heart attacks at age 40, and for eighteen years I struggled with heart disease. At age 58 my heart was failing and I was told that I would need a heart transplant to live. I was put on the on the transplant list and waited at home for four months. Waiting and not knowing if the call would come in time. At that point I did the only thing I knew how to do, pray.

When the call did come that there was a heart for me, all I could think about was that someone I never met was going to save my life.

I never imagined that I would enjoy this quality of life. I am using my new life to bring awareness to the importance of organ donation, and mentoring others who are waiting for a life saving transplant. I am determined to give back and celebrate life in honor of my donor.

My family and I are always thankful for each day we have together. I am playing golf and enjoying life to its fullest. I truly must say that my greatest joy is the time I spend with my seven grandchildren. As I hold them close to me I am grateful I have the chance to watch them grow. They are the joy of my life and I am truly blessed.

As always your family and my donor are in my heart and daily prayers forever.

There is no greater gift then the gift of life you shared with me.

Sincerely,
Joe

 

Donate Life Month “Thank You” Message from Terri Lynne

Terri Lynne

My donor was an 11 year old girl from Arkansas; that is all I know of her but not a day has ever gone by that I haven’t thought of her. Words will never begin to explain enough what has been given to me.


I believe I was given more than just a liver; I have her legacy. Even if I don’t know her name, her existence and memory is alive in me. My liver isn’t just an organ to me; it is a part of her.”

 

You can share Terri’s story here.

If you haven’t signed up to become a donor yet and are needing more information, please visit Donate Life.

Celebrating the Gift of Life – Donate Life Month

Since 2003, April has served as National Donate Life Month and provided the health and transplant communities with an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help support and raise awareness around organ donation and celebrate those who have given the gift of life to others by donating. We’ve seen some amazing gifts of generosity here at Emory since National Donate Life Month last year, and in honor of the month, we’d like to celebrate those members of our community who have truly given of themselves in an effort to save the lives of others.

Pamela Emory Employee Living Donor

Pamela Lesane

We kicked off Donate Life Month last year with the help of Pamela Lesane, an Emory Healthcare employee and now patient, after making a very generous gift to her own sister. After beginning her career with Emory Healthcare in Guest Services, Pamela came into contact with a transplant coordinator who asked her if her sister, who had suffered from kidney disease all her life, had ever been evaluated for a transplant. She had not, so Pamela helped her push forward in getting evaluated and her sister was placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. It turned out Pamela would be a match for her sister’s transplant, and the rest is history. You can read more on Pamela’s story here.

Shortly after Pamela was able to help bring renewed life to her sister via organ donation, six lives at Emory were saved by as a result of a selfless donation from one man, Jon Pomenville, from Anderson, South Carolina. Imagine waking up one morning in good health and deciding out of the goodness of your heart to donate your kidney to someone you didn’t even know – anyone, anywhere. That’s exactly what Jon did and he wasn’t looking for credit. In fact he was completely comfortable with remaining anonymous throughout the process. But during a follow-up visit to Emory University Hospital, Jon met many of the individuals whose lives he helped change – right there in the transplant clinic waiting room. Jon and four of the other donors and recipients in what is referred to as a paired kidney transplant were coincidentally scheduled for follow-up appointments within a short period of time of one another. It was only a matter of minutes before the patients – recipients and donors – two father and son combinations and Jon, the man who would give to anyone – were hugging, shaking hands, and recounting their lives and experiences. As one person began recounting the experience, eyes and ears began to focus on the tale being told from across a crowded room. Share Jon’s story.

Lester Crowell

Lester Crowell

Many of our transplant community members are recipients of organ donations themselves and have opted to find ways to give back to others in need. Lester Crowell, is a fantastic example of an Emory Transplant patient who took giving back to a whole new level. Lester is a two-time recipient of a donated heart, and as a heart transplant patient, he shared the love in a major way by holding an event to help raise awareness and over $30,000 for the Georgia Transplant Foundation. Check out Lester’s story in this video and blog post.

Kevin Jordan Wake Forest Kidney Transplant at Emory

Coach Tom Walter & Kevin Jordan

We’ve seen family members give to family members, anonymous givers donate life to change the lives of others, and a transplant patient who gave back to the community, but one story, that of Kevin Jordan and Coach Tom Walter of Wake Forest University was an especially touching one for us here at Emory. In February of 2011, we shared Part I of their story. To bring you up to speed, Kevin was diagnosed with ANCA vasculitis, an autoimmune disorder that typically leads to almost immediate kidney failure. At the time, Kevin was an all-star baseball player being actively recruited by both Wake Forest University (WFU) and Auburn, but he was faced with an illness that could potentially change his future not only in baseball, but in life. Kevin opted to join the crew at Wake Forest, but as his condition worsened, it became clear to both Kevin and Coach Tom that something would need to be done. Kevin was in desperate need of a new kidney, and when neither his mother nor father met matching criteria to serve as a living donor, Coach Tom volunteered to be tested as a match. A match he was, and the story is pretty much a fairytale from there. Just months after joining the Wake Forest crew, Kevin and his coach would share a lifelong bond, making them family both on and off the field. In October of this year, just 7 months later, Kevin was able to return to practice at the sport he loves thanks to the generous gift of Coach Tom. Share their story here.

Clay Taber, Transplant Patient with Nurse Allison Batson

Clay Taber & Allison Batson

The giving back here at Emory continued when just a few months ago, our own transplant nurse, Allison Batson, gave of herself, literally, to 23-year-old patient, Clay Taber, who was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. “Immediately when Clay came onto our unit, he became a special patient that everyone just gravitated to,” said Allison Batson. “Here was this young man with everything in his life ahead of him, and he was fighting for his life. He quickly became friends of many of the staff, and really was just a tremendous inspiration to us all.” Allison continued to visit with Clay during his weeks at the hospital, and a deeper connection began to form than the typical nurse-patient bond. “She said ‘If you’ll let me do this, I want to donate my kidney to you,” Clay recalls. “Something at that point just hit me. There are so many people in need of an organ transplant and have been waiting like me – even longer than me in many cases. And here is Allison offering to do this amazing thing. When she said ‘If you’ll let me,’ there was just something in those words. I couldn’t say no.” Share Allison and Clay’s story here.

We are so grateful to the steps that have been taken by the Emory transplant community to celebrate and give the gift of life. Countless lives are changed at the Emory Transplant Center every year because of selfless gifts of those in our community. In honor of Donate Life Month, we will help to spotlight some of these very special stories in the weeks to come. If you have your own story to share, or just want to give thanks to those here who have given the gift of life, please use the comments section below.

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A Not So Standard New Year’s for Dr. Nicole Turgeon

Dr. Nicole Turgeon, Emory Transplant

Dr. Nicole Turgeon

Just before New Year’s Day of 2012 you couldn’t find Dr. Nicole Turgeon, Emory kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon inside Emory Hospital walls as she normally is. Instead, Dr. Turgeon was taking time out of her holiday schedule for a cause she really believes in– organ donation. Dr. Turgeon jetted off to Pasadena, CA on December 29, 2012 to help decorate the Donate Life float for the Rose Bowl Parade.

“Although a small gesture, I wanted to pay tribute to the families who so selflessly give the gift of life to others,” she says of the experience. “I have seen the float on TV over the past several years and had wanted to participate. I was able to make it work this year with the incredible support of my family.”

Each year for the past six years, Donate Life has decorated a Rose Bowl Parade float with flowers. This year’s parade had the theme, “Just Imagine…,” and was viewed by millions of people at the event and on national television.

The Donate Life float had floral depictions of clock towers of the world, and six of the towers had 72 floral portraits memorializing deceased donors. The clocks were animated and rotated to mark the Donate Life theme, “One More Day,” and to recognize the value of time. Leading the float was a dedication garden honoring thousands of organ, eye and tissue donors and recipients nationwide, with roses in vials that had personalized messages. Twenty-eight transplant recipients, living donors or family members of donors rode on the float during the Rose Bowl Parade.

The Donate Life float had floral depictions of clock towers of the world, and six of the towers had 72 floral portraits memorializing deceased donors. The clocks were animated and rotated to mark the Donate Life theme, “One More Day,” and to recognize the value of time. Leading the float was a dedication garden honoring thousands of organ, eye and tissue donors and recipients nationwide, with roses in vials that had personalized messages. Twenty-eight transplant recipients, living donors or family members of donors rode on the float during the Rose Bowl Parade.

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