Donor Family Voices Archive
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From the Winter 2009 issue of For Those Who Give and Grieve.

Even though they love us, often our friends and neighbors can't give us the support that we find among other donor family members. At functions like Donor Recognition Ceremonies, the U.S. Transplant Games or local events, we get a chance to meet people with stories similar to ours. If you have attended a donor family event, what was the event, and what did you get out of it that you don't get in your everyday life? How did you feel at that event? Did you experience a letdown when the event was over? If so, how did you cope?

Attending Anual Donor Ceremonies was a rewarding experience because my Daughter was being recognized for her gifts of sight and life. I felt being around others who have done the same was a comforting reminder that I was not alone in my situation. After 15 years I now no longer have the need to attend but the years I did, were an integral experience that helped me to cope. I am very Thankful these programs were and continue to be offered to Thank Us for Giving the Gift of Life and Sight.

Posted by: Cindy Jo Greever


I would just like to let you know my e-mail address has changed and I have not recieved anything for about a year. Would you please send information to 14jan@charter.net. I am looking forward to hear about what is going on. Thank You, Jan Mackmu7kx

Posted by: Jan Mack


This year I was given the opportunity to be part of Team Ct. at the U.S. Transplant games in Pittsburgh,I was also asked to be the Donor Family Liasion. The memories,experiences and stories that I shared with Donor Families and recepients will always be remembered and cherished.Before I went to the games I never could have imagined all the emotion and joy I would experience during the opening ceremony when the donor families marched in. I will never forget the entire room up on their feet cheering as the donor familes from all over the U.S. marched in. Donor families are very much revered at these games and I felt so loved by all the recipients and their families. At that moment I realized how important our loved one "Gift of Life" truly was to the recipient and their families.The Donor Families agreed how happy we were to see how healthy the athelets are and to watch them compete in their events. As I watched recipients participate in volleyball,track and field a 5k road race and many other events, it struck me that life is a circle and life does go on through donation, and the recipients have been given a "second chance at life". The fondest memory from the games that will stay with me for years to come was being included with his family to present a gold medal to a Team Ct. heart recipient. I take away from the games very special memories and friendships. I learned how important it is to enjoy life to it's fullest and take one day at a time in our grief journey.

Posted by: Beth Ballard


I haven't attended a ceremony yet. I'm told there will be one in April, 2009. I hope it will help me. It's been 7 months since my daughter died. genevieve

Posted by: Genevieve Medina


I am grateful for this forum to express my thoughts and feelings. I have been reading the newsletter and I attended the Donor Quilt Ceremony on March 22, 2008. I was a bit nervous at first. However, after I left I felt understood. Many of the cliches spoken to me after Johnathan's death really did not ease the deep depression, isolation and withdrawal. Johnathan was special. In elementary school, he developed the school flag for Fox Run Elementary. Johnathan enjoyed basketball, track, Kenpo Karate and tennis. Johnathan participated in the DECA program at John Marshall high school and was district winner and 7th in the State.

After I left the donor ceremony, I began to see things differently, ie the blue sky, trees swaying in the wind, the beauty of the sunrise and sunset. All these gifts were given to the person who received Johnathan's corneas.

Thank you so much for this forum, the newsletter and the many events for donor families. I have found some measure of peace in my soul and I am working very hard to forgive the person who murdered Johnathan. I believe that by forgiving I will heal the deep soul pain.

Should you need someone to speak at one of your events please contact me. The guest speaker on March 22, 2008 was a blessing to my spirit.

Blessings~

Kay Bowe

Posted by: Kay Bowe


In 2002 my husband and I went to the transplant Olympics in Walt Disney. Aug 1, 1998 we lost our 17 year old son. My husband never wanted to meet my son's organ reciepients until we met Donald Arthur a heart recipient. Donald made my husband understand what a great miricle organ donation is. Also my husband saw the benefit of organ donation and the gratitude that all recipients show. The transplant Olympics is very emotional and made us feel good about our decision. I felt as if my son lives on in all the people that received his gifts. His untimely death in the hands of a drunk driver was not a total waste something good came out of it.

Posted by: Celina Lopez


I attended a lunch for donor
families in central park. The people made me feel so special. I was moved by the love they shared with me. They made sure I was well taken care of. Was so honored to be a donor family. THANK YOU.
I also went to an event at St. Patricks in N.Y.C.Once again I was treated so special.
I felt so proud that my only child Chris who passed away was still making people happy he was that type of person. Yours Truly,
Patricia Robson

Posted by: patricia robson


When I decided to honor my husband's wishes in being an organ donor, I didn't know how much this would later become a source of comfort and healing. Though my faith in God and the rallying of my friends and family, I've been able to continue on with my two young children, but finding a separate place dedicated to grieving and sharing our losses has been really helpful.

As for suggestions, I do wish there were more local networks to meet where we could heal together. I've tried several local grief groups and they were horrible. They weren't facilitated well and we were just all in different places. I've tried to reach out to one person who was in a similar situation to me, but that hasn't worked well, either. Also, I think it would be helpful if there was a list of excellent grief therapists in our respective areas. I've tried one, but after 4 sessions, I found that it wasn't that helpful. Maybe it was me or just the timing.

Finally, I attended the national donor recognition ceremony in DC a couple of years ago and while I had high expectations of the workshops, they weren't as deep as I wanted them to be. We hardly had time to really get into some of the heartache. On the other hand, my 5 year-old had a wonderful time with all the arts and crafts.

I want to end with a note of gratitude to all of our donor families out there. You've all helped in my healing process and as someone said earlier, it's nice to know that I am not alone.

Posted by: Kelly Sim


I have attended Donor Recognition in Lincoln. What I got out of attending was that it made me feel that I am not alone, there are others out there that feel the same way I do and go though the same things that I have and contuine to go though. It was a little bit of a let down when it was over cause you know you are going back to the way you were before you came there. It nice to see and talk to other people that have the same feelings you have and know that they truly understand what you are going though.

Posted by: Janet Shafer


I understand that each year the Governor of Wisconsin hosts a 'Medal Ceremony' where the donor families are presented with a medal with their loved ones name engraved on it as well as the opportunity of having their picture taken with the Governor, his wife, family members present and a picture of the donor. It was a very nice ceremony. Even though it didn't stop the hurt I am feeling and felt over the loss of my wife, I was able to see many people in the same situation as myself. I didn't have the chance to visit with many due to time restraints but those that I did visit with were hurting just like me. I felt so sorry for many of them as they had lost a child whereas as least I had 42 years with my wife. I have had direct correspondence with one of the recepients of my wife's kidney. I hope to meet them in person sometime. I only wish that the other kidney recepient and liver recepient would find it in their hearts to contact me. I have sent 4 letters to them but still no response. Writing to them is the best therapy for me even with no response as it gives me hope and a calming feeling within.

Posted by: Al Wright


As a mother who has lost a child in the last year and a half, I have found much solace in going to gatherings with other donor families. The Living Legacy Luncheon this past April was probably the most uplifting experience I’ve had since losing my son Cole. I was lucky enough to have met the recipients of Cole’s liver and lungs by then and both of them were at the luncheon along with their families. Meeting them has made me realize that Cole really has left a legacy, not only in the wonderful memories I carry, but also in the physical lives of at least two people. To me, they are part of my family now. I think that meeting them has been a huge step in getting through the grieving process and I will never regret writing the letter that made it happen. In my opinion, I think that all donor families would benefit from meeting the people who have been helped or even saved by the generosity of their loved one’s donation but I also am a firm believer that we all should proceed at our own pace and I know that not everyone is ready to make that step.

Posted by: Marta Baldwin


I have attended numerous events for donor families. The entrance of the Donor Families at the Transplant Games is by far the most amazing. Coming in and hearing all that cheering and seeing everyone on their feet, is humbling. It reminds me of just how precious a gift our daughter, Amanda, gave when she left us for Heaven.

Posted by: Cheryl Manley


Every November, Translife hosts a Donor Remembrance Day. I have been going to these for over a decade and keep returning for one simple reason: The people there can undertand how I feel because they are in the same "boat". No where else in my day-to-day world can I find that connection with other people, especially parents who have also lost a child like me. I feel sad while I'm there, sometimes tears roll down my cheeks, but I also am so happy that Translife helps me keep my child's name and memory alive. She was the center of my world and seeing her honored as a hero for giving the gift of life helps me continue with my life.

Posted by: Billie Lomonaco


We lost our daughter, Alison, 11 year ago. A stroke took her life at the age of 25. She was being treated at Johns Hopkins Medical Center by the best medical staff in the world. However, God’s love for her prevailed. Accordingly, this love then was shared in the donation of her organs and tissues.

We have attended many Donor Family Recognition events sponsored by Life Source in Minnesota, our state of residence, as well as one event sponsored by Maryland Transport Resource Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The recipients of Alison’s organs were non-communicative except for a kidney recipient who did write about 6 years after receiving her kidney. We have learned that a prompt communication from any one of the recipients would have helped us with our grief process. It would have provided a direction and a positive energy. Consequently, these events became our primary source of support and interface with recipients.

Donors and donor families make this "Gift of Life/Gift of Love" as an act of charity, a charity that is a continuation of God's love for mankind. That love is the legacy of the deceased person and carries God's love to the organ/tissue recipient. It is that love, then, that enables the recipient to continue sharing their own respective love with his/her family, friends and hopefully with the donor's family.
We feel that if recipients would accept the motive for the "gift" as being an outpouring of God's love, they should not be reticent about sending a prompt and simple "thank you" note to the donor's family. Donor families are not so much in need for condolences as they are in need of consolation.
At these events we are encouraged by the increasing numbers of donor families that are receiving letters from their respective recipients sooner rather than later. At the conclusion of these events, we can take some consolation with the efforts being made in behalf of donor families.

Posted by: J. Willis Wesley