Tissue Transplant Offers New Possibilities  |  May 12, 2015

IMG_0957After a terrible car accident nearly took her life, Kristina began the long process of healing her broken arms and legs, as well as a broken ankle and neck.

Though her arms, legs and neck healed, Kristina’s ankle remained a huge source of pain. Despite years of surgeries to correct the damage, the pain was so insistent that it forced Kristina to leave her teaching career.

I taught for six years, but eventually had to leave in order to focus on getting my health in order,” she said. “While teaching, I never really got to rest my ankle and was always in a lot of pain. I would come home every day in tears because all I could focus on was the pain.

Since numerous procedures on her ankle failed to heal the injury, Kristina decided to see a new doctor. Her new doctor recommended the use of a Tri-Cortical Ilium Wedge, a bone allograft, in the ankle fusion procedure.

Before her tissue transplant, Kristina already understood the importance of donation: her brother received two kidney transplants.

“I have always known I wanted to be a donor,” she said. “If I am no longer alive and able to use my organs and tissues, someone else who could benefit from donation should certainly get that chance.”

Kristina’s recovery was lengthy, but she worked hard to give herself the best chance to heal. She was determined to have a better quality of life.

After countless surgeries without good results, I was doubting whether I would ever feel any better,” she said.  “I believe the tissue transplant, combined with many other factors in the surgery, gave me the chance to heal properly.”

Kristina’s healed ankle didn’t just alleviate her pain, it also gave her the chance to start the life she’d always imagined.

“I always wanted to start a family, but knew my injuries and pain were not going to combine well with a pregnancy,” Kristina explained. “This experience finally enabled me to feel confident that my body could handle being pregnant and being more active, which is obviously hugely important to me.”

Getting back on her feet proves all the more important as Kristina and her husband await the arrival of their first child, due in June 2015. Kristina also hopes to return to teaching in the future and is looking forward to spending time with her new baby.

She also reflected on what it means to be a tissue recipient and what she would say to her donor, if she could.

“I am sorry you are not here, but I am so grateful you decided to be a donor. Your gift has helped me achieve a higher quality of life than I thought I would ever reach again after my car accident.”

Honoring the Gift of Life This Mother’s Day  |  May 8, 2015

Joey Gase

As Mother’s Day approaches, we wanted to highlight a donor son whose personal experience with donation now drives his career. NASCAR Driver Joey Gase celebrates his mother each time he gets in his racecar, and offers other donor families the opportunity to do the same.

Joey’s mother, Mary Jo, was an organ, eye and tissue donor who helped save or improve the lives of 66 people. Joey often features a photo of Mary Jo and other donors on his racecar to emphasize the importance of donation.

He recently sat down with Fox Sports to talk about his mother and how she still influences him every day. Watch the interview here.

Shooting Victim’s Family Finds Solace in Recipient Letters  |  May 4, 2015

(Photo: Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media/)

(Photo: Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media/)

A little over a year after Josh Richards passed away following a nightclub shooting, his parents received a letter in the mail offering them some comfort.

It was a letter stating that because Josh was an organ, eye and tissue donor, he was able to help people across the U.S. and in Switzerland. That letter was just the beginning – soon they starting receiving letters of gratitude from his recipients too.

To date, Josh’s organs helped seven people, his corneas restored sight for two people and his tissues provided life-saving and life-enhancing possibilities for 239 people.

Read more about Josh’s story and the impact of tissue donation here.

Donor Family Shares Story of Hope  |  April 22, 2015

Cameron Chana (2)Cameron Chana was a born leader who focused on making an impact in lives of others. He was very involved in volunteer work, his church, and went on mission trips across the world. No matter where he was, he encouraged positivity and spread his caring, upbeat energy.

The Chana family’s world was turned upside down when twenty-two-year old Cameron was killed in a bus accident in 2009. During a time of unimaginable grief, his parents and three siblings honored his wish to be a donor.

Cameron’s legacy of hope and love lives on through the gift of organ and tissue donation. He saved five lives through organ donation and impacted as many as 50 lives through tissue donation. His family recently shared their experience with WGN Radio. Listen to their moving interview here.

Honoring Donors in National Donate Life Month: Addison Parker  |  April 21, 2015

Addison Parker (2)Addison Parker was a happy, healthy four-year-old when undetected Type 1 diabetes took her life.

Despite the heartbreak of losing their child, Micki and Darrell Parker chose generosity in the face of grief and donated Addie’s organs, eyes and tissues.

Addie was able to give her heart, liver, kidneys, corneas and knees. Her vibrant, joyful spirit and boundless love have touched the many lives she saved and transformed.

Addie’s legacy of hope and healing has given her family peace. Through her amazing gifts of organ and tissue donation, Addie’s story lives on.