The National Perspective

Organ Procurement Organizations

The fifty-eight Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) serving the nation represent a unique aspect of the health care system. These community-based, non-profit organizations are designated by the federal government to recover organs from deceased donors for transplantation. Indeed, they are the only organizations charged with such a responsibility. Since the creation of the OPO structure in the mid-1980s, the US has developed one of the most successful systems of donor identification, authorization, recovery and coordination in the world.

The work of OPOs also includes support services for donor families, the clinical management of deceased donors, in-service and professional education of hospital staff, public education and donor registration, tissue and cornea donation and the recovery of non-transplantable organs and tissues for medical research.

OPOs are critical to the organ transplant system that tens of thousands of patients depend on each year to provide the life-saving transplant they so desperately need. For this reason, it is important to recognize the ongoing high-level performance of our donation system and to continue advocating for system changes to support continuous improvement.

A High Functioning System

Over the last six years, Organ Procurement Organizations increased organ donation by 44% in the United States, a sure sign of a well functioning donation system continually improving.

During this same time, organ transplants increased substantially and the number of deaths on the national transplant list trended downward. OPOs commit to maximizing every possible donation opportunity by obtaining authorization for donation, managing the donor, facilitating the organ recovery, and transporting organs to transplant centers.

Moreover, recent data in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates the performance of the US organ procurement system is among the very best in the world in which 43 of the top 50 performing international jurisdictions – and 9 of the top 10 performers – being U.S. states. Comparing US and Europe data from the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation and UNOS demonstrates again the strong performance of the US OPO and transplant system.

Taken together, the data demonstrates great strengths within the current structure of regionally-based Organ Procurement Organizations with close cooperative ties to their area transplant centers and donor hospitals.

Donation Continues During a Public Health Crisis

The effectiveness of the Organ Procurement Organization system is highlighted most recently during the COVID-19 crisis when OPOs – like many other parts of the health care system –  faced  a multitude of complicating factors that made their work significantly more challenging. Despite more restrictive access to hospital ICUs, fewer in person meetings with donor families and many other hurdles, the OPO community maintained its world leadership. In fact, where as some nations’ deceased donation cases were cut by upwards of 90%, the United States OPO system experienced a short-term reduction in organ donors of approximately 38% and rebounded quickly to pre-COVID levels.

During a different kind of health crisis, that of the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, OPOs quickly identified the public health implications and worked to create clear clinical pathways for these potential donors and to make the transplant system more open to the use of organs from these donors. As a result, over the last five years, over 6,500 families of overdose victims were able to find solace in donation and nearly 21,400 transplant recipients received the gift of life. While an increase in donors from overdose was partially responsible for the recent year-over-year increase in donation, it is important to note that even absent an increase in overdose death donation, non-overdose death donation rates also increased.

This foundation of experience and expertise has forged a community of organ procurement professionals within OPOs with the dedication and skill to address the needs of those who await transplant.

Meeting the Challenge Ahead

With so many patients still awaiting transplant, it is incumbent upon the key stakeholders within the donation and transplant community to work together to align our processes of continual improvement and adopt those measures that will result in more donation opportunities, additional life-saving transplants and better transplant outcomes. Among the most important are:

Adopt More Accurate and Useful OPO Performance Metrics: Organ Procurement Organization leadership and other donation and transplant advocates are calling upon the US Department of Health and Human Services to develop more meaningful, independently reported metrics to accurately reflect the performance of OPOs and appropriately adjust for such critical factors as age, cause of death and which account for extenuating circumstances (such as the COVID-19 pandemic). Improved metrics must also be timely and granular enough to inform and promote continuous improvement and increased donation. The new metrics should be free from known data integrity issue such as those that plague datasets dependent on death certificates and other questionable sources. The OPO community supports the independent electronic reporting of patient-level data as the gold standard for donation metrics.

Promote the Use of Organs from Older and More Complex Donors: Each year, thousands of organs are authorized and recovered by OPOs that are not considered suitable for transplant by current US surgical practice. However, many of these type organs are considered suitable for transplant by other nations’ health care systems. Better aligned regulatory incentives across the OPO and transplant system would result in higher utilization of organs from Donation after Circulatory Death donors, donors of advanced age and donors with more complex co-morbidities.

Expanded Use of Ex Vivo Perfusion and Preservation: Medical advancement in the perfusion, transport and preservation of donor organs have made it possible to expand the pool of donors from which a successful organ recovery and transplant can be made. Working together, transplant centers, OPOs and regulators can continue adoption of these devices and dramatically improve the function of certain donated organs, leading to more and better transplant outcomes.

Lifeline of Ohio Facilitates First Adult DCD Heart Donation in the United States

On Sunday, December 1, two milestones in the field of organ donation were achieved thanks to the decision of a registered donor. Lifeline of Ohio facilitated donations from a 26-year old Ohio man who has become the first adult in the United States to donate his heart after circulatory death and the first to give six organs after circulatory death – kidneys, lungs, liver and heart – saving five lives. All organs were successfully transplanted.

Donation after circulatory death (DCD) can be an option for giving the gift of life when a patient has suffered an irreversible, non-survivable injury and their family has decided to withdraw mechanical ventilator support. DCD occurs after the heart has stopped beating and the person’s death has been declared. It is at this time the donor can give gifts of organs, corneas and tissues. Historically, only kidneys, livers and lungs could be given through DCD.

“This is an enormous step forward for the field of organ donation which will ultimately result in more lives saved. Lifeline of Ohio is humbled and honored to facilitate this landmark donation from a heroic donor,” Kent Holloway, CEO of Lifeline of Ohio.

Lifeline of Ohio recognized the donor’s registration decision to be an organ donor, collaborated with his family, allocated his gifts and facilitated the donation process.

During his lifetime, the donor cared for developmentally disabled individuals. Through his death, and decision to be a registered organ donor, he saved the lives of recipients ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-60s. “This young man was the shining light and beacon of hope for his family and friends,” said the donor’s family. “He supported, loved and lived fiercely. Even though we will miss him, we know a part of him lives on. This truly provides us comfort. He was an extraordinary young man.”

Lifeline of Ohio worked with transplant hospital partners The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Duke University Hospital to facilitate this recovery and achieve this landmark donation.

Interview Requests: Kent Holloway, CEO and Andrew Mullins, COO of Lifeline of Ohio will be available for interviews. Please contact Jessica Petersen (jpetersen@lifelineofohio.org) for requests.  

 

Related links

How a device used to revive a heart could “revolutionize” transplants

Doctors at Duke University Hospital Perform First DCD Heart Transplant

Lifeline of Ohio Presents Awards to Champions of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

Lifeline of Ohio honored sixteen individuals and institutions for their roles in saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation at “An Evening with the Stars” presented by TXJet on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Our winners….

The Hospital of the Year award was presented to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC). This award was given to OSUWMC for facilitating the highest donation rates in their institution’s history. The gifts given by heroic donors through OSUWMC’s work will create ripple effects for generations to come.

 

 

The Tissue Recovery Hospital of the Year Award was presented to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital for their efforts to improve tissue recovery outcomes in their hospital.

 

 

 

The Lifeline of Ohio Innovation Award was presented to the team at OhioHealth Grove City Methodist Hospital for their forward-thinking collaboration with Lifeline of Ohio on a centralized recovery site for tissue donors. Ultimately, this site will be available to all 78 partner hospitals in Lifeline of Ohio’s donation service area, further streamlining the donation process and better serving donor families.

 

Malissa Warrick, Nurse Manager – Southern Ohio Medical Center was chosen as Lifeline of Ohio’s Liaison of the Year for her dedication and innovation in promoting organ, eye and tissue donation throughout her hospital.

 

 

 

Sean McKibben, President and Chief Operating Officer – Mount Carmel West Hospital, was selected as Administrator of the Year for his guidance and direction in promoting organ, eye and tissue donation throughout the Mount Carmel West health system.

 

 

 

Michelle Lozano, RN – The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, received the Nurse of the Year Award, given to an outstanding hospital nurse for her role in the donation process.

 

 

 

Keshav Deshpande of OhioHealth Grant Medical Center was recognized as Physician of the Year for his commitment and leadership in regards to the organ, eye and tissue donation process.

 

 

 

 

 

The Service, Teamwork, Attitude, Respect (S.T.A.R.) Award is given for demonstrating exemplary service, teamwork, attitude and respect in the donation process. This year’s winners are:

Dr. Amy Van Dyke, System Ethicist – Mount Carmel Health System.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital Neonate Labor and Delivery department.

 

 

 

 

Zach Thompson, Pharmacist – Nationwide Children’s Hospital. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nemili Johnson, Clinical Applications Analyst – Licking Memorial Hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Advocacy Award was presented to Christine Joseph, Administrator on Site – Lima Memorial Health System, for going above and beyond in supporting and promoting donation within her hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

The Public Relations Award was given to Sarah Holt, Director of Marketing – Marietta Memorial Hospital, for helping to reinforce the donation message both internally and externally within the hospital through effective public relations strategies.

 

 

 

 

Cheryl’s was presented with the Community Partner of the Year award for their generous involvement and many years of in-kind donations to Lifeline of Ohio events.

 

 

 

The Lifeline of Ohio Infinity Award honors a media outlet for their commitment to furthering public understanding of organ, eye and tissue donation. This award was given to Good Day Columbus, ABC6/Fox28.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lifeline of Ohio Funeral Services Partner of the Year Award, was presented to Bauknecht-Altmeyer Funeral Homes and Crematory. This award is presented to a member of the funeral services community who has demonstrated professional excellence in support of organ, eye and tissue donation.

 

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.

 

Summer 2018 CEO Update

Lifeline of Ohio has been busy serving our communities in 2018! As we gear up for a productive summer, we wanted to share a few initiatives with you.

First, in conjunction with 10TV, we produced a 30-minute special focusing on the Ripple Effect and how the choice of one can have a vast impact on so many. We encourage you to watch this piece and share it with your family and friends. Have a conversation about donation. It can save lives.

Secondly, summer is finally here which means it’s Dash for Donation time! Mark your calendars and join us on Saturday, July 14 at Genoa Park in Columbus for the 5K and family fun walk to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation. The Dash is always a great time to meet others in the community who are connected to donation.

While you’re out enjoying the summer season, I invite you to visit our Donor Memorial at 770 Kinnear Road in Columbus. The Memorial honors the heroes of donation and the ripple effect they’ve had on their recipients, family, community and world. The Memorial is especially peaceful and welcoming this time of year and we would love to see you. If you can’t make it in person, please visit our Donor Memorial website for a virtual experience.

We look forward to the rest of 2018 and helping to save and heal lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. It takes compassionate donors, their families and many talented staff to ensure the donation process happens and happens well. I would like to acknowledge every one of the Lifeline of Ohio staff for their talent, professionalism and dedication to serving our community!

Sincerely,

Kent Holloway

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.