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Recipient Stories

Still Smiling, Thanks to My Donor

I’ve always taken good care of my teeth, went to the dentist regularly and never had any major issues.  Over the years, I started experiencing painful sensitivity and my dentist told me my gums were receding.  Receding gums not only cause discomfort, but can lead to tooth root decay.  I was told I would need a gum graft.

I immediately flashed back to a year earlier when my assistant underwent the same procedure.  Doctors used tissue from the roof of her own mouth to repair her gums and she was miserable. She had to take time off work because she was in so much pain.  She couldn’t talk, function, and even missed out on the Thanksgiving holiday.

I shared my concerns with my dentist and she assured me that there was another option.  She explained a new procedure made possible by tissue donors.

She informed me that we could use Alloderm, processed skin tissue, to help replace my receding gums, a less invasive procedure. I learned that since the tissue was decellularized, it would form with my skin and eventually become my own.

I underwent gum grafting with Alloderm in October 2007 and, thanks to my donor, I felt NO pain.  I wasn’t in pain that day, the next day or any day after that.  The donor tissue not only healed my sensitivity issue, but also prevented me from experiencing extreme pain associated with using tissue from my mouth.  It means so much to me that I was able to return to my life, pain-free.  My donor kept me smiling!

When I began working at Lifeline of Ohio the following year, my gift began to mean so much more.  I feel a stronger connection to my donor because of my work as Community Outreach, Event and Volunteer Coordinator.  In my role, I get to meet donor families and other recipients and help them find ways to celebrate life.  Each event or project I take on is another chance to pay forward the gift I received.

This gift means a lot to me, and I’d like to thank my donor and all others who have given the healing gift of tissue.  To know you can affect 50 people through tissue donation is really amazing.  I’m a registered donor and I hope to leave the same legacy some day.

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