Eternally Grateful for the Gift of Life

This story was submitted by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and transplant recipient dad, Giovanni Sapio, finance manager at Scotts.

Jaundice in newborns is common. The yellowing of a baby’s skin and eyes occurs when there is a high level of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced during normal breakdown of red blood cells. In most cases, jaundice goes away on its own in two to three weeks. However, for baby Gabby, the condition would not go away.

Gabby was born in spring 2009, and the first six months of her life were spent in and out of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, undergoing numerous tests and surgeries in order to figure out why she was yellow.

She was soon diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare, incurable disease of the liver and bile ducts that occurs in infants. The majority of all children diagnosed with biliary atresia will need a liver transplant before they are 20 years old. Gabby’s parents were scared at the prospect of their daughter needing a transplant and took a while to process this information.

Within a short time frame, Gabby became a patient at Cincinnati’s Children Hospital. They were educated on keeping Gabby healthy, counseled on what a transplant would mean for their daughter and were able to connect with other parents whose children had received transplants. These interactions gave them hope.

The next few years of Gabby’s life flew by. Finally, in November of 2013, her health declined to the point where she needed to be placed on the national transplant waiting list for a new liver.

As Gabby and her parents waited for the call, her condition remained stable throughout the first half of 2014. “A beeper was given to us, and they had our cell phone numbers,” Gio, Gabby’s dad, says. “Any day, we could get the call, and we wouldn’t know when it was going to come. Every time the phone rang, we wondered if this was the call. There was a lot of anxiety.”

The call they had been waiting for came in September 2014. The family arrived in Cincinnati and five-year old Gabby was prepped for surgery.

The transplant surgery lasted more than eleven hours. The nurses provided updates throughout the day, but Gabby’s parents were anxious. Finally, they heard the good news – the surgery was a success!

Gabby made great progress over the following days and weeks. She was able to leave the hospital a week later, but had to remain in Cincinnati for six weeks while she healed.

Since her transplant three and a half years ago, she’s grown more than six inches, has gained energy and had her wish granted to visit Hawaii with her family.

When the family was asked what they thought of Gabby’s donor, “Brave, heroic, selfless, caring, compassionate, incredible, loving, courageous and amazing” were just a few of the words they had.

Gabby was truly given the gift of life and hope. Please consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor today.

Champions of Donation Honored at “An Evening with the Stars”

Seventeen individuals and institutions were honored for their roles in saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation at “An Evening with the Stars” presented by Lifeline of Ohio on Saturday, March 10, 2018.

In addition to the awards, Charity Tilleman-Dick, a two-time double-lung transplant recipient, top-selling classical recording artist and TEDx speaker, shared her incredible transplant journey with the audience. She credits both of her donors with the ability to continue singing!

Our Award Winners

Hospital of the Year – OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. This award was given to OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital for demonstrating outstanding collaboration in support of organ, eye and tissue donation, their comprehensive donation policies and procedures as well as their donation recovery outcomes.





Tissue Recovery Hospital of the Year Award – Morrow County Hospital for their efforts to improve tissue recovery outcomes in their hospital.




Physician of the Year – Dr. Onsy Ayad, Nationwide Children’s Hospital was recognized for his commitment and leadership in regards to the organ, eye and tissue donation process.





Nurse of the Year Award – Kate Savage-Ralph, RN, Mount Carmel St. Ann’s. This award is given to an outstanding hospital nurse for their role in the donation process.






Administrator of the Year – Corey D. Perry of OhioHealth Corporate Office.  He was selected for his guidance and direction in promoting organ, eye and tissue donation throughout the OhioHealth system.





Liaison of the Year – Dan Vincent, Education Consultant, Genesis HealthCare System.  Mr. Vincent was chosen for his dedication and innovation in promoting organ, eye and tissue donation.






Chaplain of the Year Award – Rick Proper, Mount Carmel East. Given for outstanding faith outreach and support for donors and their families.






Community Partner of the Year Award – Columbus (OH) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. for identifying national partners to bring the Donate Life message to and for making organ, eye and tissue donation a national health initiative for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. which has more than 100,000 members.


Infinity Award – JoAnne Viviano, The Columbus Dispatch.  Ms. Viviano received this award for her commitment to furthering public understanding about organ, eye and tissue donation.






Public Relations Award – Gina Mace, Media Relations Specialist – WVU Medicine – Camden Clark Medical Center. This award acknowledges the comprehensive support of a hospital public relations and marketing leader in promoting organ, eye and tissue donation.





The Service, Teamwork, Attitude, Respect (S.T.A.R.) Award is given for demonstrating exemplary service, teamwork, attitude and respect in the donation process:

Dr. Donald Pojman, Franklin County Deputy Coroner – Franklin County Coroner’s Office






Dr. Andrew Retzinger, ER Physician – WVU Medicine – Camden Clark Medical Center







Elysia Friend – Deaf Services Center, Inc.







Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Labor & Delivery                                                                               




Deann and Larry Heiing







Genesis Trauma Services – Genesis HealthCare System





Dr. Amy Schlegel, Director Perinatal Palliative Care – Nationwide Children’s Hospital


Workplace Partners Webpage Launched to Inspire Donation Awareness

Lifeline of Ohio invites your company, hospital or organization to join us in raising awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation. The solution to this staggering crisis is one in which everyone can play a role. By learning or sharing more about the dramatic difference one individual can make in saving and enhancing lives through organ, eye and tissue donation, lives can be saved and healed.

To make it easy for our community to request resources or access donation information, Lifeline of Ohio has launched a Workplace Partners tab on its website.  This page provides an overview of the Workplace Partnership for Life program, a list of ‘Ideas for Action,’ sample donation kits for both Ohio and West Virginia and a resource request form where groups can request further donation materials or ask for assistance for their donation awareness campaign.

Designed to streamline the request for donation materials, the webpage puts tools and ideas in the hands of those who might want to launch their campaign in a timely fashion or who seek more information to share with others.

If your company, hospital or group wants to share the importance of donation with your members or community, Lifeline of Ohio invites you to visit our website for more information or to request the materials needed to hold an awareness campaign.  Determining your group’s level of involvement in promoting donation is entirely your choice.  For further information on how you can promote donation in your organization, contact Lauren Stevens, community outreach and partnership coordinator, at

From Dialysis to Dancing

By DaMia Williams, kidney recipient

It is said that to watch a dancer dance, it is to hear our hearts speak. Dancing is my life’s passion. But in the blink of an eye, I went from dancing to dialysis. And I was just 13 years old.

I was a typical teenager when my health drastically changed.  I began to vomit, had little energy and just wasn’t myself. Doctors gave me several diagnoses, but no treatment plan ever quite worked to make me feel better.

After months of not feeling well I was sent for blood work with the hope we would finally get answers. I went for the blood draw before class and mom drove me to dance afterwards.

I am happiest when I dance, and have been twirling since I was three. As I was just beginning class, my mom entered the room – which typically isn’t allowed! She told me my doctor called and I had to go to the hospital immediately. I remember gathering my things, getting in the car and asking my mom, “Did my kidneys fail?” I have no idea why I asked that question. As she drove to the hospital, we held hands and prayed.

I soon learned I was in renal failure – my kidneys were only functioning at 5 percent. Doctors were baffled because I was still attending school and dancing. They thought I was homeschooled based on my kidney function!

After a series of surgeries, I was told I would need to begin dialysis immediately and be listed for a kidney transplant. I remember being very confused and didn’t quite know what everything meant. My best friend’s mom, my Girl Scout troop leader and a few teachers were tested to be living donors, but unfortunately, nothing panned out. My name was added to the national transplant list and I began my wait, along with thousands of other Americans, for a deceased donor.

While it was hard to be hooked up to a machine for so long during dialysis, I got used to it. Although I missed my carefree teenage life of hanging out with my friends.

On May 20, 2017, after more than a year waiting for a donor, I got the call! My mom and I were watching my brother’s basketball tournament and we were on a break between games. My mom received a call, but didn’t answer. When they called back again she answered and I heard her say, “We’re on the way right now.” I was so happy and grateful for the gift I was about to receive, but in shock!

We got to the hospital as quickly as we could and I was prepped for surgery. The last thing I remember is thanking the operating team for doing my surgery before the anesthesia started to work.

Waking up from surgery the next day, I felt better! My doctor said it was the perfect kidney for me.

Six-months after my transplant I received a letter from my donor family. I learned my donor was a dancer and began dancing at the age of three, just like me! Upon receiving the letter, my family wrote back to express our appreciation, love and gratitude.

Because of her generous gift, I was able to return to my passion – dancing. My donor takes every step, twirl and bow with me – won’t you consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor?

Forging Ahead – CEO Welcome

Lifeline of Ohio moves forward in 2018 with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride for the life-saving and transforming gifts provided through organ, eye and tissue donation in 2017. Nationally, the number of deceased organ donors exceeded 10,000 for the first time. Ohio, in turn, saw a 15 percent increase in organ donation, which resulted in a 12.2 percent increase in lifesaving organ transplants!

Lifeline of Ohio led the way last year with a 33 percent increase in organ donation, resulting in a 37 percent increase in organs transplanted!  While this feat was made possible in part by our talented and dedicated local transplant teams, ultimately it resulted from the generosity of everyday heroes who chose to give to others at the time of their passing.

The staff at Lifeline of Ohio works tirelessly to ensure no opportunity for donation goes unrecognized.  The wait list for life-saving organs remains too large and the wait too long.  Please, join me in empowering everyone you meet to make the decision to become a donor.


Kent Holloway
CEO, Lifeline of Ohio