Donate Life: How organ donation saved lives and helped grieving families heal

donatelifeaz logo (2)We are halfway through the month of April, National Donate Life Month.  The Donor Network of Arizona (DNA) has shared some touching letters they received from family members who, despite dealing with the loss of a loved one, made the decision to give life.  Organ donation saves lives, tissue donation heals lives, and corneas restore sight.

The DNA is a  nonprofit, 501(c)3 federally designated organ procurement organization for the state of Arizona.  Their dedicated and passionate work saves and heals the lives of Arizonans.

Dear Hospital Staff,

I remember getting a phone call that would change the rest of my life. It was my sister Januari telling me that my little sister Jeanne was being rushed to the hospital because she was having seizures and was unconscious. She had a brain aneurysm that ruptured. We had all the neurological tests run and she was declared to be brain dead. She was 15.

As hard as that decision was, the next one that we made was to donate her organs to those in need. Jeanne was all about living life to its fullest and giving back to others. We donated her heart, liver, pancreas, and kidneys. Her heart saved a 65 year old grandmother who runs a chili farm in New Mexico; her liver saved a 63 year old grandmother in Phoenix; her pancreas and left kidney saved a 45 year old mother of two in Glendale; and her right kidney saved a 6 year old Indian girl in southern Arizona. Of these four people that were given a second chance to live I have met three. Betty (the heart recipient). Mary (the liver recipient), and Sally (the pancreas/kidney recipient). The hardest for me to meet was Betty, but how awesome to put my head on her chest and hear my sister’s heart beating still. It is amazing to see that my sister lives on in the second chance she gave these people.

Though I am sad that my sister is gone and at such a young age, I am comforted in knowing that because of the life saving gift we decided to give she lives on, and four other families did not have to suffer the same pain and tragedy that we did in losing a loved one.

Kim, Donor Sister

Dear Hospital Staff,

When my husband’s brain aneurysm ruptured, it was the worst time of my life. But the opportunity to donate his organs gave me some semblance of meaning to the tragedy. It gave me some control when everything else was out of my control and, since he had indicated he wanted his organs to be donated, it gave me chance to satisfy his wish. And, of course, it gave the recipient the new heart he needed to watch his children grow up. I have said to people more than once that the worst thing of all would have been if Jim had been eligible for donation but the opportunity had never been given to me. That would have been devastating.

Robin Steel
Donor Wife

For more information on the registry, click here and check the new tribute site at

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