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A Woman You Should Know

For the past thirteen years, Lori Gaitten, of New Straitsville, Ohio, has touched many lives through her work at the American Red Cross.  As a donor recruitment representative in southern Ohio, she saves lives by organizing blood drives across the state.

Lori often helps families coordinate blood drives who want to give back after a loved one received the lifesaving gift of blood.  Last year, a high school principal contacted her about hosting a blood drive in her daughter’s name.  During the planning stages of the blood drive, Lori learned that eight-year-old Darby was in need of a kidney transplant.

Lori and Darby

“Her parents had both been tested and neither could donate,” said Lori.  “I knew her blood type from arranging the blood drive and I was the same type.  I immediately said, ‘I’m willing to be tested.’  I think her mom was shocked!”

Lori says the words came out of her mouth without hesitation.  She was approved as Darby’s donor and never once doubted her decision.  “From the moment I said I would donate to the moment I climbed up onto the operating table I had not one ounce of fear or anxiety.  There was no trepidation.  I think God took over and led me through the surgery,” said Lori.

While her family was concerned about her health as a kidney donor, Lori said, “I’m a pretty independent person so they knew my mind was made up.  It’s natural for them to be worried about my health, but they were very supportive.”

Describing her surgery as ‘a piece of cake,’ Lori returned home after three days and was back to work in a few weeks.  She has not had any complications from the surgery.  Neither has her recipient, Darby, who is now healthy and was able to return to school on time in 2010 thanks to the transplant.

“Darby is wonderful,” says Lori.  “I think she has made a difference in my life as much as I have in hers,” she said, adding that Darby is like a grandchild to her.  The pair talk at least once a week.

Lori’s decision to be a living donor not only saved Darby’s life, but inspired others to give life as well.  “My mother-in-law was never a registered donor until I donated,” said Lori.  “She told me that the last time she went to the BMV she couldn’t say no.  She said to me, ‘Lori, If you can do this while you’re living, there’s no way I can’t do this when I’m gone.’”

Lori hopes others will take the steps to register as donors, like her mother-in-law did.  “Not everyone is as fortunate as Darby to find a living donor,” Lori said.  “By registering to donate after death everyone has the chance to give the gift of life.”

Without a doubt, Lori is a woman you should know.  The central Ohio radio station, Sunny95, agrees and will be honoring Lori, along with 19 other remarkable women, at the “20 Outstanding Women You Should Know” celebration Friday, Feb. 25.  The free event takes place at The Aladdin Shrine Center at Easton and features many local organizations including Lifeline of Ohio.

Stop by the expo Friday from 4-8p.m. to learn about organ and tissue donation and meet Lori Gaitten!

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