Donor Family Voices Archive
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From the Winter 2007 issue of For Those Who Give and Grieve.

When your family was asked about donation, was there anything that helped make the process more comfortable for you? Do you wish that anything had been handled differently? Do you have any suggestions for improving the process for future families- either the consent process itself, or the medical/social history questions?

Our 26 year old son told us he wanted to be an organ donor, and in fact it was on his license. There was never a question in our mind what we should do. Our son Jason died very suddenly when he was hit by a car while living in Seattle. We live in Massachusetts and in memory of our son I donate time to the NE Organ Bank and volunteer as a presenter - basically speaking to various civic groups, medical groups and educational institutions encouraging organ donation. I've listened to many, many recipients and over and over I hear the resounding words: thank you, we're grateful, and there's hope.

Posted by: joan crowley

It was a tough decision to have to make on the spur of the moment. My recommendation is that they give you a little time to grasp the idea that you have just lost your loved one before they confront you with the decision of organ donation. I had to go back in my son's room to be with him before I could actually make the decision. I also think instead of asking you about the social history that they should have a form for you to complete instead.

Posted by: Cheryl Monette

I just wanted to say that I made the best decision ever to donate my son's organs. It was tough since we had never really discussed it, but the hospital staff was very helpful and helped to answer all my questions. Thank You Jennifer from Las Vegas for all that you did for me on the worse day of my life. In Memory of Michael Wesley Cline 5/28/78-4/9/03

Posted by: Cheryl Monette

I was the family member who was asked over the telephone to donate my son, John's corneas, skin & bones. This phone call was only 10 minutes after they brought me to my son. John was 18 and had suicided. It would have been so much nicer if someone came and spoke to me in person about this. One would think I should have signed some consent form,especially for the bone harvesting.

Posted by: Virginia Nolan

Now that it's been 14 years, I'm not certain my memory of the experience of donating my almost 5 year old daughter's organs is as traumatic as it seemed on that day in June, 1992. However,listing her body parts was by far the moment of realization that she was gone. I had to say good bye to a beautiful, young, and exceptional child. YIKES! To me, a very visual person, it was like taking my child apart piece by piece. I'm trying to think of something to compare it to, however, nothing comes close to the feeling of disassembling someone you love.

The most comforting and helpful experience was the presence of this kind, loving woman in the background when we didn't know if Danielle would live or die. She remained by our side throughout the next few days quietly encouraging us and giving us her strength. She was a Social Worker/Counselor from the hospital. This person/position should be provided to all families who are experiencing the death of a loved one, especially a child. While she did not influence us to donate organs, she maintained our "SANITY" long enough for us to make the right decision. My daughter was a world changer, although I do not have contact with the lives that were impacted, Danielle's organs were distributed to many people. Lives were saved or lengthened, families were drawn together and kept intact through the donation of her organs. Thank you for the opportunity to leave a legacy in her name.

Posted by: Daphne Mayer

I had made the decission prior to my son was transported to the hospital that he was a donor. What I found a bit disheartening was that it was the funeral director that told me only his corneas had been used. no explanation was given by the recovery team, and infact to my knowledge the team was never activated. I know the social history is important.

Posted by: Joyce De Monbrun Sanbowers

when we were asked to donate, it was so soon after our son died, my husband was unsure what to do. I luckily was just waking up from anestetic. He told them, no, we didn't want to donate. I said, yeah, we do. It was so soon. I can't help but think people can make a better decision a little later, when they have come to terms with the fact that they have lost their loved one. You feel so selfish, at first, you don't want anyone else to have your child. LAter, it is easier to see it is helping someone else. For some, it may be too late, by the time they come to terms with the death and decide to give the gift of life. It may not be up to you how long you wait after the time of death, to ask.......

Posted by: frances jones

My husband died while waiting on a transplant so I was already familiar with the process. Donation it a wonderful thing. Your loved one can go one living through some one else.

Posted by: Revonda Tucker Cassavaugh

My husband died suddenly of a heart attack, completely unexpected. But we both knew each wanted to be a organ donar, so there was no hesitation on my part at all. I was so overwhemed, but only remember saying yes..I understood what needed to be done. A family from my church did not have a good experience, but it was an entirely different situation. Knowing exactly WHO is asking the questions is very families are under such stress..we need to be sure anyone involded in the process is identified and great care given to the family of the donor.

Posted by: Debby Lamb

Our daughter became an organ donor at the age of 3 days of life. Thankfully, my husband and I had already had a discussion about organ donation. As a nurse I had told him that he would be a donor if something happened to him unless he told me otherwise. I very clearly remember saying, “if something happens to one of our kids, I don’t know what I would do”. Little did I know that I would be tested a few years later. For some reason our little angel was born with unexpected problems and was declared brain dead three days later. Our family brought up the suggestion to the NICU staff and doctors. The whole process blew them away. She was the first baby in there to be a donor and they were unfamiliar with the process. Most of their patients are too little or too sick. The local opo was great. Philip and a trainee were with us most of the night as they searched for a baby that was a tissue match and a size match. All they could place was her heart. It flew from Arkansas to Michigan and is still beating and working wonderfully 7 ½ years later in the chest of a precious boy. Thankfully, we have had the opportunity to meet him and his family and have kept in close contact for the last 6 ½ years.

There are a couple of things that I would change. The questions for us were probably not as bad as they are for most. It is a little different for such a young baby. There was some comic relief when they asked my husband if he had had sex with another man in the last x number of years. Like he would admit it in front of me if he had!! They probably should have separated us to be sure of honest answers. I know that my husband was honest but what if he had. How many would admit it in front of his wife?

The other thing that I would change was that no one offered to let us see her after surgery. My biggest regret is that I did not get a chance to hold her without all the tubes and lines. The funeral home was not very understanding of needs that are specific to the parents who lose newborns, either.

The healing process was enhanced 1000% knowing that her heart is beating and growing in Sam’s chest. I am so glad that we could prevent another family from going through the grief that we were and are experiencing.

You can read their stories at

Posted by: Karen Loomis

My 18-year old son died after a tragic shooting accident 15 years ago. At that time there was not the knowledge regarding organ and tissue donation that we are trying to get out to the public now. I was approached in the hospital hall outside Cole's room with the question of donation. We did not have to answer any of the medical questions there are now, but only if & what we wanted to donate. It really caught me off guard, but I did not have to consider it for long as I knew my son would have said "Yes" in a minute if he could have made the decision. Since that time I have worked with the coordinators and the Donor Network and have learned so much to help me deal with all of the emotions tied to losing my son and to understand how the process is completed and why the decision has to be made at that time. The knowledge I have gained in the last 5 years is remarkable and I just want to get the knowledge out to the public to make it easier for anyone in a situation where they are approached to make the organ and tissue donation decision. It is absolutely a chance to give the "Gift Of Life".

Posted by: Patty Rynearson

When I was asked about donating my sons organs the people were very compassionate and took there time to answer all of my questions. My husband wanted to be a donor too but by time we found him it was to late. My son loved life and knowing that he could help someone else made me very proud. I know he lives on in others. He helped a lot of donor recipients.

Posted by: Janice Struebel

At the time of our son's death we had been blessed with a wonderful, supportive staff at the hospital except for one nuerosurgeon. He told us that we should go home and pray for a miracle, a "cloud-like" feeling over whelmed me. There was no discussion about brain death, no explanation as to what the doctor meant by his statement.....there was no eye contact at all. I needed the doctor to look at me, Stephen's mother and explain what he meant. The doctor got up and left the room where my husband and I just sat and stared. My husband asked me, "Is Stephen dying?" We both felt so lost, we didn't know which way to turn for help. I have shared this story many times in hoping that everyone involved in making a decision about organ/tissue donation could benefit from our experience. I have a strong faith and I know that this happened for a reason.......maybe it's to open eyes so others can learn how to deal with death.
I'm sure it is difficult for doctors to share information with families about the death of a loved one but when there is an opportunity to make something good such as organ/tissue donation come from a family's loss the possible donor family need answers to their questions, they need eye contact....that to me is so important. When we met with the coordinator from LifeNet, we arranged to use the chapel to deal with the process of organ/tissue donation. LifeNet has used our experience to educate hospital staff members.....this is a positive experience for so many people. Stephen would be "ok" knowing that through his death others can learn how to be more helpful.

Posted by: Anne Tayman

Our daughter died in 2001 at the age of 11, through a terrible home health nursing care accident. First responders took her from our home to the emergency room where she was declared dead in the middle of the night. The circumstances were disturbing to the ER staff I am sure - but there was basically no emotional support for us while we were there. The nurses seemed to avoid us and there was no chaplain on call. We left the hospital while the coroner did his examination and spent 2-3 hours in shock at a friend's house before we went home at 6 AM. When we arrived there were several phone messages - two telling us that Eleanore's body was taken from the hospital to the crime lab for an autopsy, and one from the Northwest Lions Eye Bank. Everything was done over the telephone - because of the nature of Eleanore's death none of her other organs could be used. Donating her corneas gave us great comfort and we felt sure that it was what she wanted. She was profoundly deaf and had cerebral palsy, but her vision was good, her eyes were beautiful and she took in all her communication through them - it seemed special that someone else might benefit from them and turn our tragedy into good. But I wish it could have been done in person. No one at the hospital spoke to us about the option, or what would be done with her body and so on. I also wish they had told me more about how the corneas are harvested - I chose not to see her body again because of the cornea donation and the autopsy - I was afraid of what I would see and no one gave me any reason not to fear. With hindsight I realize I should have asked more questions, but at such a time one does not think rationally about what to ask. It would have helped to have some guidance. Moreoever, we have never heard anything about or from a recipient. At first I thought it was OK not to know rather than to face the fact that her corneas perhaps were not usable or that the transplant did not work, but now I wish I knew. We also sent a one page memorial letter and picture of Eleanore in response to a request from NW Lions Eye Bank for materials that could possibly be used in educational displays about donations. They never responded to that in any way (even acknowledgment that it arrived). There was healing for me in writing it, but I still wish they had communicated with us a bit about these things. I am still very glad that we made the choice we did and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But it could have been done better.

Posted by: Tamara Kittelson-Aldred

Two things stick in my mind:

1) Lifeline of Ohio handled our donations. We lost two children (twins) but were only given one memory box as if they were only one person. All their lives I had been telling people that they weren't the same person just because they looked alike. Their personalities were so different. I felt that giving the box was thoughtful, but it was thoughtless to only give us one.

2) I don't know how much donor recepients are encouraged to write letters, but it really, really hurts that we've never heard from 7 out of 8 people who were saved through our daughters' generosity. I wonder if the recipients are ever really grateful or not? Do they ever even wonder about the person who was the previous owner of the organ that is now sustaining their bodies? Because they've never even bothered to say thank you, I wonder if perhaps they just take it for granted. I worry that maybe they didn't make it and died anyway in spite of the transplant. It would just be so comforting to know.

Posted by: Amy

My son Matthew Burrows was an organ donor in 2001. There was nothing more our donor coordinator Cathy Cobb could have done to make the process of donating any more comfortable, she was awesome! She allowed me to have everyone I wanted which was several of Matthew's family members and his closest friends to be with me during the complete process of answering questions concering his background and history. We left the hospital when he was taken to the operating room and with my approval Cathy called to left me know when everything was completed.

Posted by: Beth Burrows

When I was asked if my sister's organs could be donated, I didn't hesitate because my sister loved life and would give whatever she had to anyone who needed help. She did not have much to donate as she had a lot of medical issues but it was an honor to say yes to donating what she had to offer.

The only thing I would like is to find out who received her gift and if they are doing okay. I don't want to pry but it would be nice to send a card once a year in honor of my sister.

Posted by: Kathleen Plake

My family was honored that my loved one could even be considered for see, she was the reciepient of the "Gift Of Life" 13 years before she died. She had a heart transplant at the age of 27. We knew that when her time came if she could donate anything to help someone else we could not say "No. So when the doctors and staff approached us it was a easy and quick response of "Yes".

Posted by: Davaline A. Perry

We lost my 34 year old sister 5 years ago to a brain aneurysm. We were prepared for the possibility of her death by the doctors, and we knew she wanted to be a donor, so that decision was simple. With regards to the process, I remember the questionnaire being long and detailed. In that state of mind, it was difficult to remember dates and specifics with regards to her medical problems. But there were three of us, and the person asking the questions was very patient and understanding. I also remember the coordinator that came; she was wonderful and answered all our questions. She also stayed with us to the end, which was very helpful as there were some complications in arranging for the actual procedure to take her organs. All in all, I feel that it was handled very respectfully and with lots of care. For it being the hardest few days of my life, I would still make the same decision again.

Posted by: Jennifer Adams

I really don't remember much of that day other than the lose of my son.. I just knew that the kind of guy he is that he would have wanted to help others. A person that worked with the police dept.was the one that brought up the info on donating organs.

Posted by: sandra lockwood



The entire hospital staff and the team involved with the donation process were all very professional and sincere in explaining and keeping us informed of the process. I am thankful for the many questions that were repeated because I believe it helped the donation process to be a success. Because we are all human beings, and some or all of us lose sleep during a hard time as losing a loved one and I believe that there is no right or wrong way to handle the process of donating a loved ones organs and/or tissues. Everyone deals with the loss of a loved one differently just as they would handle the process of donating a loved ones organs and/or tissues differently. Therefore, I have no suggestions for improving the process for future families. I think that the people involved in the consent process and the medical/social aspect of the donor were very well organized and sincere. I doubt very much if there is a better way of dealing with such a terrible thing. I am thankful that donation of organs and/or tissues are possible in our day in age. Think about it, there was no such thing available when our grandparents were around. We have come a long way in helping people live. The name, “The Gift of Life” is a perfect name for a team of people who really care in helping a recipient receive an organ and/or tissue and are sympathetic for the donor family.

Posted by: Nancy Wagner

My husband and I asked for our son's organs to be harvested when we were informed that he would not survive the trauma he experienced. Two gentlemen came to interview us and answer our questions. One of our interviewers was himself in a similiar position to us when his brother had a fatal accident. He was with his mom at the hospital when she made the decision to donate. His compassion, patience and gentle way made the experience easier.

Posted by: Cynthia Thompson

Actually we probably jumped the gun. We asked to speak to someone about organ donation before we were asked. My 16-year old son had a conversation with me only two months before he was hurt about his wish to help others.

It is a very difficult process...there is no way to make it easy or easier. I don't really remember specific things about the consent process because I had been without sleep for so many days that things were quite fuzzy by then.

Posted by: Martha Payne

When my husband passed away, a nurse came into the room in which I was placed and told me she wanted to talk to me about UNYTS with no further explanation as to what UNYTS was------------I think that it should be stated right up front what UNYTS is and that the hospital is mandated by NY State law to approach family members about donation. In my opinion it would make the conversation move along at a more comfortable pace.

Posted by: Mary Schuler

The only thing that helped me to get through the death of my son Matt was the knowledge that he wanted to be a donor. Matt made the decision to be a donor when he was 18 years old, little did we know that in 2 short years that choice would be exercised.I am so glad he told me what he wanted because I was just carrying out his last wish. As giving as he was in life it was only right that his last wish would be to give to others. I'm so proud to say that he made the choice to give and that I was able to help him make it happen. The questions that were asked by our Coordinator were gently phrased and the whole conversation was done with our grief firmly in mind. I have never met a more kind and caring group of people than the Team that takes care of the Central Kentucky area. I would wish that everyone has such a caring Team as ours.
Linda Ross, donor mother of Matthew Braden Ross, Oct.2002

Posted by: Linda Ross

None of us knows what the future holds. My daughter Amy died suddenly of a brain aneurysm at the age of 22. She had a 14 month old son at the time and my husband and I flew 22 hrs. from the mission field in Africa directly to the hospital. Fortunately Amy had known in high school she wanted to donate her organsif she was ever in this position. I think education to all of our children early on is the key. There are so many fallacies about organ donation that need to be addressed. Sad to say many are ignorant of what it is and how it can help so many.
Knowing ahead helped us. I was really unaware of all the possibilities of donation from corneas to intestines.

Posted by: Patti Knight

My husband and I had decided early on in his illness that he would be a donor and I have indicated so also on my driver's license. I suggest that this information be given out at hospitals when patients are admitted if they(patient) haven't already decided on doing so.

Posted by: Alice F Petrik

I remember almost every detail of the night at the hospital after we received a call that my 16 year old daughter, Liz, had been involved in a car accident. What I don't remember is the exact questions that the Tennesse Donors represenative asked us. I just remember how courteous, compassionate, and kind she was. We did not feel pressured...we were offered a chance to turn a terrible tragedy into life for another. Organ donation became a major part of our healing. I really feel that it is best for a qualified and trained organ donor represenative to approach the families. I feel they have the information needed to explain it all to the families, even better than the doctors could. I am a nurse and at the hospital where I work, the doctors usually do not talk to the families about this sensitive subject. When a patient is declared brain dead then Tennessee Donors is called and they come to speak to the family. I feel if at all possible this should be discussed face to face with the families and not by phone. Thanks for all you do.

Posted by: Pam Yarnell

20 years ago offering the option of donation was not mandated by law and the requestors were not "trained". The doctors and nurses my family grew to love in such a short time believed that they were offering us great consolation not taking anything away. They spoke to us as though we were their own family and we felt the caring. The questions were embarrassing but handled with dignity. I felt that if the tables were turned I would want to have those questions asked of my son's donor family.

As a designated requestor I have had the honor of approaching many families for consent over the telephone. Families understand the importance of the questions. When they are cared for and prepared properly family members are not shocked or offended by the questions.

Posted by: Diedra "Dee" Thompson

The main thing that made the whole process more comfortable is that my husband had stated that this is what he wanted to do, was to help others. The other thing was that I was with a dear friend and my pastor.
The process for me was not that bad and I cant even remember the questions that were asked of me in regards to the donation. The only thing that I have regretted through all this (other than the fact that my husband died) was that I did not stay at the hospital until the donation surgery started. The thing that makes me know that it was all worthwhile was when I received the letter from a recipient. It was then that I realized that my husband still lives on, not only in my heart, but in the body of others. My husband always wanted to travel the country and now I feel that he is doing just that...going to places he had never been before. Thank you for giving him this opportunity.

Posted by: Katrina Taylor

My father died very lae in the evening. Knowing that time was of the essence in order to honor his wishes to be a donor, I answered those difficult questions at 2:30 in the morning. The only thing that got me through it was the sweet, compassionate voice at the other end. I thanked the woman many times during the interview for being the nicest person I had ever talked to on the phone. She really helped me put thing in perspective.

Posted by: Christina Roman

The lady that spoke with us was very kind and soft spoken. She seemed to understand what we were going through. I understand that there is a very short time frame and possibly there is nothing that can be done but it just seemed like we were told that our son had lost all brain function and then almost immediately someone is there asking about organ donation. I think that it would probably be easier if the questionnaire was given to the family to fill out and not have to answer those questions out loud. But if faced with it all over again, I still would not hesitate to donate my child's organs because we have met 2 of the three recipients and are blessed by having met them.

Posted by: Cheryl Stanford

My brother was 44 yrs old when died suddenly of a heart attack. Being his older brother I was put in a position to make a decision. My decision was easy to make since my brother was always a giving person. I felt that with my brothers passing could help just on person with his donation then his dying would not be in vain. The people in the other end of the phone have a very difficult job and handled thier role compassionately and professionally. I would not change a thing. Thank you

Posted by: Kevin W. Woolverton

The most important part of going through this process when my mom died was the patience, courtesy and compassion of the person asking us the questions. She sat with us and allowed us to reminisce and never once made us feel like we were taking up her time. She patiently listened to our stories and remembrances and laughed with us and cried with us. The questionnaire itself offered us a little comic relief when we had to consider if my mother had any tattoos or if she had used any drugs. Anyone who knew her would have chuckled at the thought of her getting a tattoo! Everything was explained so clearly that we were able to gain comfort in the knowledge that her heart valves could potentially go to a child. She would have loved that and it really made it easier to make the decision. Also, the communication with CTDN doesn't end at the hospital. To actually have a relationship with the organization proves that their motives aren't selfish. They not only care about the procurement but the giver and the giver's family as well. It was completely worth it and given the circumstance I would make the same choice.

Posted by: Leeann Bongiorno

I lost both my husband and son within 14 months of each other. At my husband death bed, I was asked to donate his cornea, and I had to answer all the questions. Although the questions were in details, I thought they were needed to be sure that the tissue was healthy enough to be transplanned. For my son, it was a sudden death in an accident, I was in another state. I asked the question of the doctor if my son's organs were needed. I answered all the questions, although with so much pain, but again, it was a must for the staff to be sure that the tissues were healthy for transplant.

After my husband death, my son wrote a essay about organ donnor. He suggested that the family should be made well aware of the intention of the donnor, and to make them aware that many questions would be asked of them before the tissues can be harvasted.

It was sad that we lost our loved one, but knowing that our loved one helps other to live on, sure helped our grieving.

Catherine Lan Tran

Posted by: Catherine L. Tran

When I was asked about donation, knowing it was what Mom wanted made the decision for me. Although there were indeed many questions, the lady who called was very understand and sympathetic, giving me the impression that what my family was going through was most important and and that by donating our Mom's legacy would live on through someone else. I think all families need to be asked, regardless of the tragic situation. I work with a lady who said her family would have donated, but she does not remember anyone asking the question when her Dad passed. It is hard to remember everything at a time such as this. I think follow up is important, my Mom passed away 11/27/04 and I would very much like to know how many people she helped. Even if it was not possible for her organs or tissue to be used, I still would like to know. I will always be a strong supported or organ donation.

Posted by: Deborah Tutton

I feel that at the time we were approached...we felt very violated. We felt there was still hope as long as our daughter was still breathing. It wasn't until we were actually given the final say that she was no longer doing anything for herself (the machines were doing it all) that we felt we could deal with this question. Once we were sure she was gone, it was an easy decision. The staff was very helpful and still provides us with support. I just think it is a hard situation anyway you address it.

Posted by: Terri Contreras

When asked about thedonation of corneas, I was not clear about the process of this donation. I felt Kenneth ahd beautiful eyes and did not want them removed. Had I been more knowledgeable about exactly waht would have been removed, I may have consented to this particular donation. I aslo was appreciative that they did not remove the pancreas,as there was no one available to recieve it.


Friday, Dec. 1, 2006, will be two years since the tragic death of my youngest child, Ryan, 17 years old. I was in such a state of we all are, but for me I wish the process would have been explained more extensively, i.e how long the process can take, that they are not in pain, that their bodies are not torn up, etc. And please remember, it may have been explained and I just don't remember. There is not a whole lot about those first few months that I do remember. But, I do remember that I felt I had 'murdered' my child. I also worried so much about Ryan being in 'pain' during the process. Since that time I have talked to several other donor families and so many of them seem to have had those same feelings and fears. I feel it would be very helpful if there were some way that we as donor families or the local Family Advocates for the OPO could share upfront with these new donor families the feelings they may have in the days to come, what to expect. Sometimes, we as grieving families feel better when we know what to expect and that others have had the same thoughts and feelings that we have. Ryan's family advocate with LOPA contacted me as soon as his transplantation surgery was complete. At that time she helped me through some of those horrible thoughts and feelings that I was having. I would like to thank LOPA for all they have done to help my family and me. They are a wonderful and caring group of people.

Posted by: Jean Floyd

Everything was handled very well. My younger brother, Mark Reynolds and I had already decided we wanted to be organ donors. He died from a head injury.

Posted by: Beverly Haynes

In 1981, our decision was very easy. We had decided as a family, on 1/1/81 at the dinner table, that all organs could be used to help others if any of us should die. We didn't think our 8 and 9 year old kids would be killed in May of that year. This type of counseling could be included for volunteers/staff of each medical facility. If a caring person approaches family members gently and doesn't rush the situation, this may help the process.

Posted by: Sue (Steidle) Clones -donor mom

I would like to suggest that a national donor bank that could be contacted in advance and could somehow be associated with your SSN or your drivers license number could be done in advance by the person that wants to be a donor so there was no family conflict and that the organs could be harvested sooner.

Posted by: Loree Larsen

Six years ago we lost our precious daughter to a car accident. We had to make the decisions to take her off life support because of severe head injuries. We are so thank-ful to have had the opportunity to discuss organ donation with our daughter as well as the rest of the family members. That is what gave us the peace to make the decision to donate her organs. As the Dr's approached us with the results of her tests, and some choices to make as a family;because of our faith that decision to donate her organs came alot easier,as we knew it was what she would want. "To lose a life is to save a life" a continuing circle.
The harvest team had the utmost respect for our family, and answered all our questions. They have continued to support us to this day and we appreciate them so much.
We would suggest that everyone who would want to become a donor would make it known to there family, and also put it on your drivers license. Also for continued support attend the functions they provide for you as a donor or recipient family. These functions help tremendously to support each other as we grieve and grow,to understand, and to survive a death ,or a new life of a loved one.

Posted by: Woody & Trish Studt

Jessica Marie Kupczak was placed on Life Support on November 17th 2002. Jessica had a severe Asthma attack which led to cardiac arrest, which led to a lack of Oxygen to her brain. Jessica had already signed up to be an Organ Donor in 2001 when she she renewed her licence. The decision not to donate was never an option. The NYOD nurse who met with us was sensitive, caring, and compassionate. There is nothing that I would change when she found me standing there in that hallway at 2:15 AM. These people are angles. Jessica's Dad.

Posted by: Peter Kupczak

The thing that helped me throught this process the most was that the worker allowed me to remeniesce about my daughter and didn't put time limits on the procedure.

Posted by: Nadine

Sometimes it may help to let the family know that it is possible to just track who has been helped by the donation. In my case I am not worried about meeting my husband's acutal recipants, but get comfort just from a little information on who they were and how long they had been waiting.

Posted by: Kim Moran

With 11/26/2006 being the 3rd anniverasry of my mothers passing and donating, i find it fiting asking this question. on that day however, i had my uncle, moms older brother to help with any family history that may have came up and of course my brother in case mom every said anything i didn't know, I found my self laughing through some of the questions because mom and i had talked about the fact she wanted to donate and what questione i might have to answer before hand and if her brother was there, mom was right about the questions and some were embarassing to me but mom already knew they would come up, they ask every question you could think of and then even more. the gentlemen we sat with was wonderful and alwas asked if we need a break and even with all the criing i did i still laugh a few more times with my mom as i knew she was with me while i had to answer those questions with my brother and uncle sitting right there wondering why i was laughing, as well as the man dressed with the respect we need for the time that it was. and i'm sure he too wondered why i would cry and then laugh. well it was because mom and i talked about every thing and i do meean everything there wasn't a question the gentleman asked myself and my family that my mom and i had figured he would ask and thought "oh my how will uncle talk it" her brother, she said just laugh and know we had this talk. the really old thing about her death was that we had this talk about her donating before but on this day we went into greater detail, wondering what questions they would ask and how am i suppose to answer with her brother there in the room and she said " with the most honest answer and straight face and then when uncle leaves the room you may laugh out loud." so thank you for this chance to laugh again with my mom 3 years later. lynette crane

Posted by: lynette crane

We were approached by the doctor asking the question if our son went into Cardiac Arrest what measure did we want taken. They were testing and it looked as if Derek was Brain Dead if this next test was not positive we would have to make some decisions. Would we take Derek off life support and had we considered Organ Donation. When we were approached by IDS it was handled with compassion as the questions were ask we were together as a family still at the hospital, we were given a moment to think about our wishes and then went through them one by one. I had marked Derek’s heart yet I did not mark the valves on the tissue side. I was ask, if the heart could not be used would we consider donating the valves, I agreed I just was not thinking. We stayed with Derek as the research was being done to find recipients the nurse from IDS kept us informed as to where his organs would be shipped. It gave us time to spend our last hours with him. My suggestion is to educate families ahead of time about organ donation and to recommend families talk about there wishes before they are faced with the decisions. If our family would have talked about it ahead of time we would have been more responsive to tissue donation. Our IDS family has been wonderful over the last 6 year.
Thank You, Enjoy Life to the Fullest. Cathy Grimsley

Posted by: Cathy Grimsley

To whom it may concern, As an employee of an organ procurement organization who performs consent and asks these medical social questions I am really looking forward to the response to the questions. I am looking forward to any way I can improve that part of the family's experience. Thank you for having these questions. Melvin

Posted by: melvin whitlock jr.

When my husband, Gene, died of a sudden cardiac death at home, I knew he would want to be a Donor. At the hospital I approached the Dr with the donation question and was told he was "too old". He was 52-I knew this couldn't be true-then I was told the Cornorer in our county didn't allow donation. I had to fight to honor my husbands' wishes--however at the time when all else was out of control, it gave me a focus. I made the hospital staff get someone on the phone from the OPO to tell me that he was not eligible for donation. What I got was a wonderfully caring person, Darrell Lewis, who explained everything to me and asked the questions that needed to be asked. I found some of the questions envasive, and kept thinking, "if you knew Gene, you wouldn't have to ask me that"-but then I kept going back to honoring his wish and this was just a step. This process fueled me to begin my volunteer work and try to educate Cornorers, Doctors and medical staff about the importance of giving the family the option of Donation. Thankfull the law now requires the family be approached. The work is not yet done until all requestors are able to approach families in a caring respectful manner. This open forum for families is a good start.
Thanks NDFC

Posted by: Jan O'Bryan-Wilson

When the medical staff told us my son, David wasn't getting any oxygen to his brain and wasn't breathing on his own, we already knew if it came to this, we would be prepared to donate his organs - without hesitation. David would want to help others. When we were led to a certain room, we sat at a long table in a traditional white painted hospital room and the interviewer was at the other end of the table. If I had to go through this again, it would be more comforting to be in a room with warm colors, possibly a candle,and comfortable chairs - sitting together in a close nit circle, maybe even holding hands. This would ease the interviewing process. I think the interviewer should give us a moment - get to know the grieving family before we answered questions.




When I was contacted the night my wife passed away I had forgotten that she was to be an organ donor. The individual who contacted me was very helpful and patient and seemed to know what I was going thru. They explained the entire process, especially the fact that her body had to be transported 125 miles each way and about the care that they would take. The questions were painful but the entire process was handled incredibly well. Since my wifes death, myself as well as my 3 children have also signed up to be organ donors. Knowing that she is still out there helping other people even 3 1/2 years after helps me out tremendously.

Posted by: Mike Kelsey

When I was called about my Son I spoke with a gentleman named Jeff. After 5 years I can still remember his name because he was so nice to me. He explained why he had to call so soon and he also explained why he asked the questions. I knew what my Son wanted to do was a good thing and this gentleman made me feel even better about it. I am now registered to be an organ donor too.

Posted by: Joyce Smelser

My husband had already said he would be donor. The questions over the phone after he died were so lengthy. There must be a way to have these questions answered ahead of time. The timing was very poor.

Posted by: Dianna Hearl

When my daughter died suddenly after being in an automobile accident, it was very comforting to me that SHE had made the choice to donate her organs. It was not something I needed to think about. I was fulfilling her wish. Had I had to make the decision, knowing it was a decision about her, not me, it would have been much harder to do. It has been 11 years since my daughter passed on so the actual process is not fresh in my mind. I do recall an autopsy had to be performed because her death was considered a homicide by vehicle. This invasion angered me more than anything because they tried to come between my daughters wishes to donate and the states need to perform the autopsy. This was worked out but it caused alot of stress for me. The representatives from the organ donors were all very helpful and courteous.

Posted by: Colleen Sullivan

The manner in which we were approached was very respectful. The staff and clergy gave us their condolences and explained the process and said they would leave us alone to ponder our decision. This was very comforting for us.

Posted by: Charles Roberts

We had a very good experience with Lifeshare Oklahoma when our son died. The hospital staff and Neurosurgeon were honest and direct yet had compassionate and tact in a very difficult time. It seemed that some of the questions on the medical/social history were asked over and over in various way's this tried my patience and I really wanted to say "I already answered that" It would be my desire for the questions to be streamlined and direct if possible. It did seem to take a very long time to process and all I really could think of was getting back to my son. The families are so out of control at that time and fragile that I am afraid some would just say forget it. Just my thoughts on our experience that night. Again, the procurement specialist that came to see us was really wonderful just his job was difficult

Posted by: Mary LeBeau

Our son was taken to Carraway Medical in Birmingham, AL after he was hit while riding his bicycle. The doctors were all so thoughtful and caring but due to the nature of Chris' injuries they never gave us any false hope. His accident happened at 10:55 am.
Sometime around 8:30 pm two doctors came into the waiting room. They advised they were required by the laws of Alabama to ask two things:
Should extra-ordinary measures be used to sustain life and would we consent to organ donation if brain death did occur?
I wanted my son to live but a part of me realized it might not be. I had met a kidney receipient two years earlier and I thought if he did die we should donate his organs, but couldn't bring myself to bring the topic up.
My husband was remembering that Chris had earned the Boy Scout Donor Awareness Patch and had indicated as part of it that he would want to be an organ donor.
So, when the doctor's asked us that second question we were both able to say yes to donation.
I would say that for a medical professional asking in the manner we were asked would make it easier on them to ask. As a donor mother I think this was a kinder and gentler way to approach organ donation.

Posted by: Hope Gardner

Our daughter was 34 years old when she suffered a cerebral aneurysm. She was divorced so the donation decisions were ours as her parents. My husband suggested the donation to the hospital personnel before they had a chance to approach us. We were very much aware of the donation process before this tragic envent happened. Since our daughter was not living with us some of the questions we could not answer but generally they did not make us uncomfortable. The hospital personnel handled it very compassionately and professionally.

Posted by: June Van Asch

My husband being the caring person he was, had already signed up to be a donor. Of course at the time it was a very, very sad time for us. The thing that got us thru was we knew this is what HE wanted to do for someone else.

Posted by: Cheryl Smith

As we sat in the waiting room, two doctors entered. One did the talking. He informed us that state law required him to ask us two questions. Would we consider Organ donation and did we want "extreme measures" take to try to prolong our son's life? After explaining what he ment by "extreme measures" our answers were "Yes" and "No."

After visiting my son's room for the last time, I was asked to fill out a form. I truthfully can not remember most of the questions. They must have been the right answers as my 13 year old's Heart, Kidneys and Liver helped prolong the lives of four needy folks.

Posted by: Steve Gardner

The only thing that was difficult was having to go through the quetions over the phone for the transplant people - stuff that was in his hospital record already. There should be an easier way to do that.

Posted by: Pat

Thank you!

Posted by: Jennifer