Posts Tagged ‘organ donor’

Stranger Gives Holiday Gift to Georgia Teen

This time of year, during the holiday season, most people are shopping for family and loved ones trying to find that perfect gift. Well, a 16-year old Georgia teen received that perfect gift from a complete stranger – she received the gift of life.

Kelly Bundick, a 42-year old medical sales rep and single mother of a 5-year old son and a 12-year old daughter, decided to donate one of her kidneys to the Georgia teen. Kelly saw a photo of the teenager on the Callaway Facebook page. You may remember Raleigh Callaway, a kidney transplant recipient who received a lot of media attention when his wife posted a message on Facebook with their two children holding a sign that read, “Our Daddy Needs a Kidney.” They were able to find a donor, and Raleigh had his kidney transplant surgery at Emory. To give back, the Callaway family continues the Callaway Facebook page to spread the word for others who are in need of a kidney and searching for a living donor.

This was the first time a child had been featured on the Callaway Facebook page, and Kelly knew she had to help the teen.

Watch the video below to see how the story unfolds…this truly is the holiday of giving.

Dr. Nicole Turgeon, who performed Kelly’s operation, is Director of Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program. The Emory Transplant Center has a well-established program, performing more than 1,200 living donor transplants to date.

“I really cherish the opportunity to work with these donors because they put themselves in harm’s way,” Dr. Turgeon says. “So, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to them as well as to the potential recipient.”


Happy Holidays from the Emory Transplant Center

transplant-ribbonNo matter what your religious beliefs or cultural background, the holidays are a time to reflect on our extraordinary blessings and appreciate the love in our lives as we spend time with family and friends. The Emory Transplant Center has so much to be grateful for this season: our skilled faculty and staff, the excellence of our world-class transplant facilities, the satisfaction of helping our transplant patients, and most importantly, our donor families who have given the gift of life.

Without a doubt the Emory Transplant Center is one of the busiest transplant centers in the country, offering hundreds of patients in this area a chance at renewed lives. This only occurs through the benefits of organ transplantation each year. Without the selfless acts of kindness from donors and donor families, we wouldn’t have the wonderful stories of hope that we have every day. Please take a moment from your busy schedules this holiday season to salute these kind gifts.

Make your wishes known to your family and sign a donor card to become an organ donor.


Emory Transplant Center’s Donor Wall Debuts 21 More Names

Transplant Donor WallThe Emory Transplan Center’s living donor wall, spanning one entire wall in the Outpatient Transplant Clinic’s (OTC) reception area, includes 21 additional names as of Nov. 26. As we celebrate the holidays, paving the way to a season of giving, it is with joy that we highlight the names of those who have given a part of themselves to a related or unrelated individual — donations of selfless gifts so that others may live and enjoy improved health and wellness.

The wall made its debut in Emory’s OTC in 2007. The new panel is the third installation since the wall’s premiere, with additions also made in 2009 and 2011. Today, the wall displays over 400 living donor names and their relationship to the recipients of their life giving/life enhancing gift, a kidney or portion of one’s liver.

Our living donor wall pays tribute to the individuals named there as tangible depictions of the ultimate gift of love to another.

“You can make a living by what you get, but you can make a life by what you give.” —unknown

When Living Organ Donation Means Living On Through Others

Living Organ Donation Donate Life MonthIn recognition of Donate Life month, the Emory Transplant Center was honored to have a very special speaker share an extraordinary story – one that touches the very heart of what it means to give the gift of life even in times of heartbreak.

Scott Haggard shared with Emory physicians and staff the story of his sister, Terri Haggard Wade – a loving 48 year old wife, mother, sister and daughter – who spent her professional career as a nurse.  And as part of the medical profession, Terri knew the importance of organ donation.  As a matter of fact, when her son was learning to drive, Terri said that before he could drive on his own, he would need to register to become an organ donor.

It was March of 2009 when Terri was rear ended in an automobile accident.  She began to experience headaches, and when they continued after a few weeks, Terri decided to go to an urgent care center to be evaluated. The urgent care center sent her to a nearby hospital to have a CT scan of her head.  And that was when they discovered Terri had a brain tumor.

On April 15, 2009, Terri had surgery to remove her tumor.  The surgery was more complicated than anticipated, and Terri did not wake up immediately after the surgery.  After ten days, Terri still had not awakened and her intracranial pressure spiked to very high levels, causing brain death.

At this time, Terri’s medical team approached her family asking them to make a very difficult decision.  They had to decide whether or not to allow Terri’s organs to be donated – they knew she wasn’t really with them anymore.

“We were never going to have Terri,” said Scott, “but to have her be able to help others, even in death, meant everything to us”.

To honor Terri’s wishes, her organs were donated, saving lives as she had done so many times before as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Egleston.  Terri was very loved among many – over 700 people were present at her funeral.

Although Scott knows that the individuals who received his sister’s organ are grateful for their gift of life, he says “It also means a lot to us, the donor family, to know that Terri is able to live through others”.

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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.


  • 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.


  • 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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Families Pay Forward the Gift of Life in Emory’s Paired Exchange Program

Paired Exchange Tiffany Prevo Mark VillantiAs a personal trainer and general manager of Workout Anytime in Decatur, GA, Mark Villanti believes being healthy and living life to the fullest is a top priority. Fitness is Mark’s passion and he especially enjoys running ultra-marathons and helping his clients get into shape. One day, a client of Mark’s mentioned that her husband was in need of a kidney transplant and that neither she nor any other loved one was a match. Mark got to thinking, ‘what if I became a donor?’ Coincidentally, back in college as a Sports Science major, Mark conducted research on renal failure and gained a keen understanding of what physical limitations a person on dialysis experiences – being tied to a dialysis machines for hours at a time, multiple times during the week. When his client mentioned her husband’s need for a kidney, in some way Mark felt it was a spiritual message.

“I have always loved to help and protect people; my wife would say that I am a very giving person. Being a combat veteran of the US Marine Corp and the US Army, serving in the Iraq war, and losing both parents in the past 5 years made me realize how important life and living is.”’

Knowing what a dialysis patient is up against on a daily basis and thinking about his client’s husband’s need, Mark began the matching process and was approved to be a donor. But while in the process, Mark’s client’s husband received a kidney from another donor. Instead of returning back to his daily life and forgetting the notion of donating, Mark decided to continue the process to become an altruistic donor.

When he was contacted by Emory informing him they found a matching patient candidate, Mark learned only that she was a woman in her 30s needing a kidney and that she was a part of the Paired Exchange Program through the Emory Transplant Center. This program was established to help pay forward the gift of donating life, meaning that when Mark donated his kidney to the recipient, the recipient’s loved one would then donate their kidney to another person in need since there was not a compatible blood match. In a paired exchanged donation, a donor and recipient are matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair, and the kidneys are exchanged.

Mark’s recipient Tiffany Prevo, wife and mother of three daughters (a 9 yr old and 5 yr old twins), was diagnosed with Lupus in 2008, which led to her end stage renal failure. Tiffany’s doctor told her that she would either need dialysis treatment for the remainder of her life, or that a kidney transplant was an option. Tiffany decided to be placed on the transplant waiting list. While waiting, Tiffany underwent peritoneal dialysis which tied her to a machine for eight hours every day.

“The dialysis treatments made me very emotional. I was up and down and just borderline depressed. I wanted a transplant right away – I couldn’t work and worse of all, I couldn’t do things with my daughters.”

Jemel, Tiffany’s husband, and other members of her family went through the matching process but were not eligible. Jemel immediately offered to be a part of the paired exchange program to accelerate Tiffany’s chance of receiving a kidney. Tiffany waited 18 months before she received the call from Emory stating they found Mark, her donor match.

On the day of transplant, Tiffany felt calm, asking herself, “Is this really happening?”. As Mark went in to have his kidney removed, he was not afraid at all. As a matter of fact, he felt excitement and was “ready to get this done to help this woman.” And finally there was Jemel, who also had surgery on that same day to donate to a child that he has never met.

All surgeries were successful. As Mark was recovering from his surgery at Emory University Hospital, he was up walking the halls as requested by his doctor, Dr. Nicole Turgeon. “As I walked past a room in the hall, I looked in and saw a woman. She looked back at me and we both thought, could this be the person?” As a matter of fact, Jemel and Mark were recovering in patient rooms right next to one another, and by chance a meeting of the three occurred. There were many smiles, hugs and tears of joy. Mark knew he had given the gift of live.
With words of wisdom to others who may be considering becoming a living donor, Mark says, “With anything else you have to look at the pros and the cons; in my case there were no cons. I knew I could live with just one kidney so I went for it. Life is a gift God has given us.”

Tiffany is very thankful to Mark stating, “I’ve never met such an amazing kind hearted man in person. You see it on TV or hear about it on the news but I never thought it would happen to me – I’m really grateful to Mark”. As for her husband, “Well he’s my hero. Without him all this wouldn’t have been possible – he’s amazing too.”
Two weeks post surgery, Mark was already back to one of his favorite pastime’s, running on the trails. Fast forward two months later to today, and Mark is training for another ultra marathon in September, where he will run 35 miles. He is back to his normal day to day activity and feeling great.

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