Thankful for My Gifts of Sight

By Janice Shroder, two-time cornea recipient 

Ever since I can remember, I struggled with vision issues.  I, just like my mother, was diagnosed with Corneal Dystrophy Lattice Degeneration as a toddler. This rare genetic disease breaks down the corneas over time and each new “episode” causes the cornea to tear apart (ulcerate), leaving the person in horrible pain as the cornea repairs itself.  Stress, hormones and other triggers cause the disease to flare up and unfortunately there is no way to predict when a corneal tear will occur.

Although the dystrophy was noted in both eyes, only one eye at a time would ulcerate. The ulcerations were sporadic all through my life – the earliest I can remember is in kindergarten when I would have to wear an eye patch when my cornea would ulcerate.

As I grew and entered nursing school, the ulcerations became more painful. The pain would be intense enough to keep me down, preferably in a dark room for days until my eye would heal and I could tolerate opening it again due to the light. It was described to me by my doctor as if “someone has taken a Brill-O pad to the surface of my cornea.”

Despite the pain I went through on a regular, almost monthly, basis, I was able to graduate from nursing school.  I was the first person in my family to go to college and am very proud of my degree to help others.

As my vision grew worse, simple things like cleaning my house and driving became more difficult.  I would take the same route to and from home every shift, follow semi-trucks because they were easier to see and hope my exits were not closed due to construction because I could no longer read the signs ahead of me.  Another issue was reading my texts on my phone.  I would use the largest font allowable to clarify the messages.  My vision was like looking though wax paper in my worst eye.  I had to take more medical leave each year putting my career in jeopardy – I needed my vision for my job as a nurse otherwise I could not work.

Finally, in 2007 the scarring came to a point where it was determined I needed a transplant in my right eye. Between completing college, three pregnancies, working night shift as a pediatric nurse at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and life demands, the accumulation of scarring had taken its toll.

As surgery day approached, I realized one very generous, thoughtful donor was giving me a gift.  Everything changed that day.  Even though my disease is not gone, I had a new view – it was like looking through a brand new window!  I was able to get back to a comfortable routine until 2016 when my left eye also needed a transplant – and again, a generous donor gave me the gift of sight.

After the last transplant I needed special contacts to assist my vision.  At that point everything changed!  All because my two cornea donors gave, I can see the color of people’s eyes – I hadn’t been able to see the color of eyes for more than ten years. What a difference to see the eyes of my patients and those I love so dearly.  I actually commented to my husband I could see his wrinkles and age spots as well as my own!

Every day I put my lenses in, I am thankful for my donors and their decision to give.  I’ve written to their families to say thank you.  I hope that when I leave this earth I am as unselfish as they were and am able to help others by being an organ, eye and tissue donor. Please register today!

Contributing Financially to Lifeline of Ohio

As a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization Lifeline of Ohio often receives financial contributions and in-kind donations from individual and corporations.  In recent years these contributions were directed to professional education events, the construction of the Donor Memorial and enrichment of bereavement services for donor families. In the past year Lifeline of Ohio has moved to formalize the acceptance and solicitation of financial contributions with the appointment of Rachael Beasley as Development Specialist within the Public Relations Department.  Beasley had previously served Lifeline of Ohio as a Hospital Development Representative.

Corporate Giving

  • Matching Gifts: Many companies offer matching gift programs to encourage employees to contribute to charitable organizations. Most of these programs match contributions dollar for dollar.  However, matching gift programs vary.  Typically employers will provide a form for their employees to complete which requests the non-profit’s EIN (Lifeline of Ohio’s is 31-1116603).
  • Event Sponsorships: Lifeline of Ohio has several events throughout the year. If your company is interested in sponsoring one of the events below, please reach out to learn more about our sponsorship packages.
    • Dash for Donation – Since 1999, our annual 5K race to promote organ, eye and tissue donation has brought thousands of people together in our community to honor those who gave, pay tribute to those who received, offer hope to those who continue to wait, and to remember the lives lost while waiting for the Gift of Life.
    • Evening with the Stars – For more than a decade Lifeline of Ohio has held an annual recognition dinner to honor our hospital and community partners. This is an opportunity to thank those who went above and beyond their role to ensure lives were saved through organ, eye and tissue donation.
    • Wet Lab – This is an annual event which provides education and hands-on practice of clinical skills for technicians in organ procurement organizations.
  • Cause-Related Marketing: This type of fundraising is a win/win for companies and non-profits. While promoting Lifeline of Ohio’s mission, the company can see an increase in business sales, earn new customers and enhance customer loyalty.

Individual Giving

  • Planned Gifts – These contributions are often called “legacy gifts” because they are created during the contributor’s lifetime to be used for future endeavors. There are a wide variety of planned giving vehicles, from wills and bequests to charitable gift annuities. If you’re interested in leaving a legacy through financial giving, we encourage you to reach out to us. Note: We encourage you to speak to your financial advisors as well since we are unable to provide tax or legal advice. 
  • Annual Gifts – We accept financial contributions in memory and/or in honor of individuals on an annual basis. It’s also a great way to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. Contributions are unrestricted and supports our Bereavement Services, outreach and educational endeavors.

 Fundraise With Us!

  • Dash for DonationTeam captains and individuals have the opportunity to raise funds for our annual 5k race. This rewarding opportunity allows individuals to promote Lifeline of Ohio’s mission while recruiting family, friends and co-workers to join their team and/or support their fundraising goals. Lifeline of Ohio provides tips and tools to make team recruitment and fundraising fun and easy. Currently, all financial contributions support our Bereavement Services and Donor Family programming.  We hope you join us!
  • Custom Special Events – Over the years we’ve had numerous individuals plan events to benefit Lifeline of Ohio. Some examples include running races, golf outings, lemonade stands, corn hole tournaments, etc. If you are interested in planning a special event, please contact us so we can assist your efforts.

 If you or your organization are interested in financially supporting Lifeline of Ohio’s support of donor families or advocacy and educational programs, please contact Rachael at rbeasley@lifelineofohio.org or 614-384-7341.

 

Summer Greetings – CEO Welcome

Lifeline of Ohio has had a busy summer and the fall is shaping up to be just as active.  September 24-28 is National DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) Appreciation Week.  We plan to deliver “thanks” to each and every one of our BMV partners.  Their dedication has helped us achieve an overall donor registration rate of approximately 60 percent! We are so fortunate in Ohio to have a supportive and dedicated BMV network.

In June, we again had the opportunity to educate the Central Ohio LGBTQ community regarding their ability to register as an organ donor.  For so long, some members of this community assumed they were not eligible to donate.  Thanks to our staff’s efforts during Columbus Pride we registered 50 percent more new donors than in 2017 and educated many, many more.

In September we will launch our Pass it On campaign with former Ohio State and NFL running back Beanie Wells. He’ll be working with select schools to host football camps and educate students through a Donate Life week at their school. Beanie received a life-enhancing tissue transplant in October 2013, and his father is awaiting a kidney transplant.

In October we’ll be updating our list of names in our Donor Memorial.  Our Memorial honors donors in the Lifeline of Ohio service area and engraving and acknowledgment on the Memorial is offered at no cost to the donor family.

As these last few months of 2018 unfold, please consider participating in one or more of our donor family and volunteer activities. Follow us on social media to learn more!

Enjoy every day and remember to “Donate Life Ohio”!

Kent

The Tiniest of Donors

Image by the Columbus Dispatch

In July, Lifeline of Ohio facilitated the third neonatal organ donation for research since we developed an Anencephalic Donation Program in October 2017. Three families, all with babies born with congenital anomalies not expected to live longer than minutes to a couple of days, approached Lifeline of Ohio about the option of donation.  With the launch of this new program, we are able to offer families in these difficult situations the option for something good to come out of something so terrible.

Kelly and Adam Calhoon approached Lifeline of Ohio after their baby was given a diagnosis of “not compatible with life outside of the womb” at their 12-week ultrasound appointment. After research, and learning donation may be a possibility, they knew what their child was meant to do – leave a rich legacy through research.

Because of his condition, Noah was born by Cesarean section on January 10, 2018. Aside from his underdeveloped brain, he was healthy. He met his 2-year-old sister, Josie, and other family members. He lived for 25 hours.

Noah’s parents donated his liver, kidneys, lungs, thymus, pancreas, trachea and intestine to foster research involving cancer, diabetes, AIDS, kidney-disease risk, tuberculosis, asthma, lung transplants and a malabsorption disorder called short gut syndrome.

Many of the research efforts stay at the local level between The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  Some of the local research taking place includes:

  • Lungs- used to study chronic asthma and develop a lung map to understand human lung development to increase regeneration of lung tissue in underdeveloped lungs for premature babies.
  • Liver- goal to develop novel in vivo models to serve as a bridge of translation of labs discoveries to clinical applications for research to treat human disease like cancer, diabetes and AIDS.
  • Kidneys- test therapies designed to preserve nephrons in patients at risk for chronic kidney disease.
  • Pancreas- discover a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
  • Intestine- working on development of 3D mapping of the intestines
  • Heart valves for transplant (there are requirements on baby’s size and gestation)

“I can honestly say that that was the best day of my life, just because there was so much love in that room,” Kelly said. “Everybody was so happy and excited, and there wasn’t another care in the world. You just weren’t thinking about anything other than ‘This is why we did this, and we made it, and this was the payoff.’”

Columbus Dispatch story

Thankful to My Three Donors

By Aubrey Turner, three-time kidney transplant recipient

I’ve never known what it’s like to be truly healthy. When I was two, just a toddler, I was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulo Sclerosis, a rare disease which attacks the kidneys. When I was two, just a toddler, my parents were told I would eventually need a kidney transplant to survive.

My mom, not wanting her baby to struggle, donated one of her kidneys when I was four. Through the next eight years her gift allowed me to go to school, have friends and to be a normal kid. Unluckily, a series of health crisis when I was 12 caused my gifted kidney to fail. I vaguely remember this time in my life, but I do credit the power of prayer with helping to get me through.

Due to my kidney failing, I found myself again in need of a transplant. This time, my dad stepped up! My transplant took place in the summer of 1998, immediately following me competing in the Transplant Games of America. His gift enabled me to go through middle and high school, to be a student, do activities and spend time with my friends.

I competed just days before my second transplant.

Then, on Mother’s Day 2000 my parents received a call they never wanted to hear – I was diagnosed with skin cancer. It was staged severe enough that I had to undergo surgery and the treatment plan placed me at risk for losing my “new”

kidney.

The skin cancer treatment went on all through my eighth grade year. Four years later, as a senior in high school, my kidney finally failed from the combination of chemo and radiation. Graduation day came and I’m thankful I was able to walk and experience that milestone, but at the same time it was the most miserable moment in my life.  At this point I had very little kidney function and I was beyond swollen. Immediately after graduation we went to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to begin dialysis.

Since I was out of parents to be my living donors, and I was an only child, I had to do what hundreds of thousands of others do, join the national transplant waiting list for a new kidney while receiving dialysis.

Two days after Aubrey’s third transplant

My wait began in 2004 and lasted until 2016. 12 years. 12 years of waiting. 12 years of dialysis. 12 years of health issues. And 12 years of staying positive, knowing a hero would save me.

And a hero did, on July 13, 2016, the day before I turned 31. When my phone rang at 4:00 in the morning, I KNEW it was my transplant coordinator. I was hesitantly excited as I heard the words, “We found a match for you.”

Three hours later I was being prepped for surgery – my time had come!  Waking up from my transplant was an adjustment – I hadn’t had the urge to urinate in 12 years and it was an odd sensation!

Honoring her donor at the Lifeline of Ohio Donor Memorial

Reflecting back on how my life was after receiving my gift, I remember the amazing feeling of not having to do dialysis – I just couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to have received a transplant! Without my donor, dialysis would still rule my life – now the freedom of health and life is my new pathway.  I have the ability to work, be with my family for holidays and spend time with those I care about.

I am so incredibly thankful for this gift. I’ve written my donor family, but haven’t yet heard back. I would love to meet them in person and truly express my gratitude.

Just think, YOU have the power to save someone, like my donor did for me. Register today to save a life – www.lifelineofohio.org.