‘There shouldn’t be a waiting list.’ Tucson widow touts importance of organ, tissue donation

Scott Eisenfeld

Scott Eisenfeld

On Sept. 15, 2013, Christine Eisenfeld received the phone call nobody wants to get. Her husband, Scott Eisenfeld, suffered sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed when he was in the middle of a 40-mile bike ride training for El Tour de Tucson. He was 52 years old. She was told to get to the hospital immediately.

Scott was riding with numerous medical professionals that day, so Christine was hopeful everything was OK. But when she showed up at the hospital, she saw dozens of cyclists in tears while medical staff quickly whisked her and her daughter into a room where her son was waiting. “None of the signs were pointing in the right direction,” she recalled. Then, a doctor came in. “I’m sorry. We did all we could. He didn’t make it. A nurse will be in shortly.”

Christine Eisenfeld speaks at a flag raising ceremony at TMC during the Donor Network of Arizona's Health Care for Hope month, April

Christine Eisenfeld speaks at a flag raising ceremony at TMC during the Donor Network of Arizona’s Health Care for Hope month, April

That nurse, Christine said, was an angel. “She was there to talk to us about donating Scott’s organs. I couldn’t believe what was happening. But her approach made all the difference in the world for us. She told me, ‘this is the last time you and your children will be able to make a decision for him, without any outside influences,’” Christine recalled. After talking things over with their children, the Eisenfeld family decided that yes, absolutely – this is what their beloved father and husband would have wanted. Christine signed the paperwork, and later learned that doctors were able to recover Scott’s heart valve to benefit a patient in California.

Within a few months of Scott’s passing, Christine started becoming involved with the Donor Network of Arizona. She speaks at outreach events like a flag-raising ceremony that took place at TMC to recognize April as Health Care for Hope, an annual campaign organized by the Donor Network of Arizona. The goal is to increase registrations for and awareness of organ and tissue donations. She spends time talking to clinical staff about the importance of donation, and how to best approach families about it. She is also dedicated to educating and registering people and strongly feels that every time her husband’s story encourages someone to sign up, he’s saved a life.

In 2014, five TMC patients, with family support, chose to become organ donors. Additionally, there were 21 eye donations and 23 tissue donations.

Click on Donor Network of Arizona for more information on how to register, the campaign as well as TMC’s donor stories.

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