Second Chance Blog

 

2015 Jessica Beth Schwartz Scholarship Winners

August 19th, 2015

 

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With the ever-increasing cost of college tuition and books, the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship helps ease the pressure of educational expenses by awarding $2,500 scholarships to three students under the age of 25 each year. Over its 13-year history, the scholarship has proudly awarded more than $100,000 to nearly 50 students!

The event and scholarship were founded in 2003 by the Schwartz family in honor of Jessica Beth Schwartz, a heart transplant recipient who was a gifted student and artist.  Jessica was able to live eight years post-transplant, but passed away before reaching her life-long dream of completing her education.  The scholarship was created in her memory, to support other transplant recipients who shared Jessie’s dream of earning a college degree.

Jessie’s family will continue her meaningful legacy at this year’s Jessie’s Day!  The event promises to offer an afternoon of fun, raffles, entertainment and fundraising for this important cause.  Visit jessiesday.org for more information and for tickets.

Janice Schwartz-Donahue presented $2,500 scholarships to this year’s recipients in May 2015:

Kevin A. Brighter was admitted to the hospital with two dysplastic nephrotic kidneys just five days after he was born.  At two years old, he received a kidney from his father.  Fifteen years later, Kevin is President and Director of his school’s daily news program, is a member of student council and plays varsity tennis.  He will attend LaSalle University in the fall.

Jacob Thomas Hafer was diagnosed with Hyperplastic Left Heart Syndrome and had a heart transplant when he was seven months old.  Today, Jacob is an active volunteer with Gift of Life and a tour guide at the Daniel Boone Homestead.  Throughout his high school years, Jacob was very active, participating in the golf and track teams and the student ambassador club.  He will attend LaSalle University in the fall.

Lindsay Nicole Truesdale was born two months early and was diagnosed with a dysplastic kidney.  By the time she was fourteen months old, her kidney began to deteriorate.  She was blessed at 2.5 years old when she received the gift of life – a new kidney!  Today, she is healthy and involved with many clubs and extracurricular activities. She has volunteered for the Key Club and Special Olympics, and has helped with school dances and made thanksgiving meals for those in need. She will attend the University of Tampa next year.

Congratulations and good luck to all of the 2015 Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship recipients!


Help the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship raise money for college-bound transplant recipients by joining Gift of Life at the 13th Annual Jessie’s Day on November 8th at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA from 1:00-4:00 PM.  Jessie’s Day is the scholarship’s largest fundraiser, and is an important part of helping make transplant recipients’ college dreams a reality.

Part 4: Brave DE Mother Says ‘Yes’ to Organ Donation, Gives Life to Many Others

August 11th, 2015

Continued from previous post… “Part 3: DE Father of Three Awaits a Life-Saving Kidney Transplant

Lives are saved and donation is only made possible through the selflessness of donors and the decision of their families to donate.   It is an act of the upmost generosity, especially considering that family members are facing an emotionally devastating loss.  Andrea Haritos never thought she would have to make this decision.  A devoted mother of two teenagers, Cecil Bond and his younger sister, Taylor Bond, Andrea had raised her children with love, faith and a comfortable life that included traveling throughout the U.S., and a few trips abroad.  Her ex-husband had been Cecil’s basketball coach for years.  Cecil played basketball and excelled.  Taylor earned an academic scholarship to college.

After a painful divorce, Andrea’s family started to experience the emotional challenges that often face children who see their parents separate.  As Cecil progressed through his teenage years after the divorce, his behavioral issues were evident. As he continued down the wrong path, he became a victim of violence and was shot and killed at just 19 years old.

“I knew I wanted to make the decision for Cecil to be an organ donor. I feel like I gave birth to a child who had the destiny of saving others.  Because of my son, several people got a phone call that they were going to live.  It makes you realize that we all need each other, and that underneath it all – we are all the same.” Andrea said.

Cecil was a very well-liked young man and always had a lot of friends.  At his memorial service, hundreds of people came to pay their respects.  “I feel like his life was so short, but that because he was able to save and help others – he didn’t die unnecessarily.” Andrea said. Today, Andrea and her family volunteer at Gift of Life by donating desserts to Gift of Life’s Family House and by speaking out about donation and how it has helped them heal.

Andrea said, “Everyone has the power to save someone’s life.  People need to realize that their loved one may be gone, but they can change someone else’s life with the decision to donate.  It’s really a powerful moment where you think of others through your own pain.” Cecil Bond

We all have the power to make a change by registering as an organ and tissue donor at donors1.org and by supporting local event like the DE Donor Dash.  On Saturday, August 22nd, Gift of Life, along with Christiana Care Health System, Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the Delaware Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Board will host the 2nd Annual Delaware Donor Dash to raise funding for educational initiatives throughout Delaware. The 5K run/walk will take place at Dravo Plaza in Wilmington, DE at 8:30 AM. On-site registration opens at 7:30 AM. Community education and events – like the Delaware Donor Dash – play an essential role in highlighting the importance of registering as an organ and tissue donor. Visit dedonordash.org for more information and to register.

By saying “yes” to donation, you can help put an end to the critical shortage of registered organ and tissue donors and save lives.  It only takes 30 seconds to become a registered donor at donors1.org.  By taking just 30 seconds today, you can help give someone a second chance at life.

Part 3: DE Father of Three Awaits a Life-Saving Kidney Transplant

August 11th, 2015

Continued from previous post “Part 2: DE Woman Received TWO Life-Saving Organ Transplants

Mary and Susan both discussed how blessed they feel to be able to work and live free from dialysis, illness and the fear of waiting.  Not everyone is as fortunate as they are though.  Bill Murray is just 53 years old and has been waiting for a kidney transplant for a year and a half.  He is a father of three, and used to own his own plumbing business for 22 years.  Before his illness, he was physically active, refereeing softball and basketball regularly.  He used to love to travel and had the energy to do what he loved most – spending time with family.

Since being diagnosed with kidney failure, his life has drastically changed.  He had to give up his business and now spends much of his time on home dialysis, 6 days a week, three hours a day.  He is still hopeful that he will receive the gift of life though, and is a passionate advocate for donation.  Although his energy level is very low, he still volunteers with Gift of Life Donor Program, speaking about donation and working tabling events throughout DE, where he has an opportunity to make an impact and share his story.

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“When I tell people my story, it makes a difference.” Bill said.  “There are a lot of misconceptions that keep people from registering, and when they see me and hear what I’ve been through, it changes their minds. So many people are waiting for a second chance.  They are really sick and struggling. It’s important for me to make sure others understand how much they can help. Educating people about donation is my life-long journey.” he said.

Like the more than 123,000 other individuals who are waiting nationally, Bill looks forward to being healthy and having a chance to enjoy the little pleasures in life again.  He said, “As soon as I have my transplant, the first thing that I want to do is go to my favorite Italian restaurant and order pasta.  My diet is so restricted, that I haven’t been able to enjoy my favorite foods in years.”


We all have the power to make a change by registering as an organ and tissue donor at donors1.org and by supporting local event like the DE Donor Dash.  On Saturday, August 22nd, Gift of Life, along with Christiana Care Health System, Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the Delaware Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Board will host the 2nd Annual Delaware Donor Dash to raise funding for educational initiatives throughout Delaware. The 5K run/walk will take place at Dravo Plaza in Wilmington, DE at 8:30 AM. On-site registration opens at 7:30 AM. Community education and events – like the Delaware Donor Dash – play an essential role in highlighting the importance of registering as an organ and tissue donor. Visit dedonordash.org for more information and to register.

By saying “yes” to donation, you can help put an end to the critical shortage of registered organ and tissue donors and save lives.  It only takes 30 seconds to become a registered donor at donors1.org.  By taking just 30 seconds today, you can help give someone a second chance at life.

Part 2: DE Woman Received TWO Life-Saving Organ Transplants

August 11th, 2015

Continued from previous post “DE Type 1 Diabetic Received Second Chance through Organ Donation

Newark resident, Mary Coyle, understands Susan’s situation all too well.  She is a two time kidney recipient.  Unlike Susan, Mary didn’t have any symptoms of kidney disease throughout most of her life.  Then, when she was pregnant, her kidneys began to shut down.  She became severely anemic and had trouble staying awake, often falling asleep in the car at traffic lights and in meetings.  As her kidney function declined, doctors told her that she would need a new kidney to survive.

“My siblings were all tested to see if they were a match for me.” said Mary. “They wanted to help and donate one of their kidneys.  In the end, my brother was able to donate.  It was amazing after my transplant.  I woke up from surgery and felt like someone had turned a light on.  I felt so much energy and immediately wanted to eat.”Mary Coyle and Family

Mary went on to give birth to another son post-transplant and had 23 years of health with her brother’s kidney.  “My attitude helped me a lot.  I always kept moving and was proactive with my health – taking my medicine, eating right and exercising.  I felt great for years.  Then in 2012, I started to feel exhausted again, and that’s when doctors said that it was time for another transplant.” Mary said.

This time, Mary’s living donor was her husband.  But since he wasn’t a match, they became part of a kidney exchange list.  Her husband altruistically donated a kidney that saved a woman in California, and Mary received a matching kidney shortly after.  She said, “We both healed quickly and set a goal to go to Key West just a few months after our surgeries.  I kept thinking about the vacation as my goal to get better.  Living donation and the kidney exchange allowed me to avoid dialysis and being put on the waitlist.  I have so many friends that are waiting.  I wish they all had this option.” she said.


We all have the power to make a change by registering as an organ and tissue donor at donors1.org and by supporting local event like the DE Donor Dash.  On Saturday, August 22nd, Gift of Life, along with Christiana Care Health System, Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the Delaware Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Board will host the 2nd Annual Delaware Donor Dash to raise funding for educational initiatives throughout Delaware. The 5K run/walk will take place at Dravo Plaza in Wilmington, DE at 8:30 AM. On-site registration opens at 7:30 AM. Community education and events – like the Delaware Donor Dash – play an essential role in highlighting the importance of registering as an organ and tissue donor. Visit dedonordash.org for more information and to register.

By saying “yes” to donation, you can help put an end to the critical shortage of registered organ and tissue donors and save lives.  It only takes 30 seconds to become a registered donor at donors1.org.  By taking just 30 seconds today, you can help give someone a second chance at life.

DE Type 1 Diabetic Received Second Chance through Organ Donation

August 11th, 2015

Currently in Delaware, 637 people are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant.  In Gift of Life’s region – DE, eastern PA and southern NJ – 6,000 people are on the transplant waitlist.  These statistics are alarming, especially with the release of the latest numbers – that 22 men, women and children in the U.S. die every day while waiting for a transplant. The fact is that the demand for life-saving organ transplants greatly exceeds the number of organs that become available.

Many Delawareans are alive today because of the generosity of others saying ‘yes’ to donation, such as Susan Comegy, a kidney and pancreas recipient.  Since the age of 15, Susan had been a type 1 diabetic.  Throughout most of her life, she worked hard to remain healthy and keep her diabetes under control. Then after 40 years, she began experiencing serious health issues.  She was underweight, weak and could barely walk.  Her doctor said that her diabetes had caused her kidneys to decline, resulting in end stage kidney failure.  After extensive testing, she was listed on the organ transplant waitlist and was advised by her doctor to begin dialysis.

Susan Comegy

“I was so anemic from my kidney function being so low that I could barely walk across a room.  I was very sick and was barely able to move.”  said Susan.  After nearly nine months of sickness and waiting, Susan received the call of a lifetime – letting her know that a donor was available and there was a match.  Within a few days of receiving a transplant, Susan was like a new woman.  “At 57 years old, I felt better than I did as a teenager.” said Susan.  “After my surgery, I woke up and felt like a different person.  Now, I can work out and exercise.  I get up at 6:00 AM, work all day and go to bed at midnight.  My energy is endless.”

Susan’s donor was a 27 year old man with three children.  She feels a depth of gratitude for him that words cannot express.  “I never thought I deserved it.  Now, I just feel like I am so lucky and am forever thankful.” she said.  “Because of my donor, my life is so different now.  My husband and I are able to take trips and I have energy to play with my two dogs that I rescued.  I have a completely different attitude about my life.  I am blessed and every day feels like my donor is watching over me.  He’s my guardian angel.”


We all have the power to make a change by registering as an organ and tissue donor at donors1.org and by supporting local event like the DE Donor Dash.  On Saturday, August 22nd, Gift of Life, along with Christiana Care Health System, Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the Delaware Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Board will host the 2nd Annual Delaware Donor Dash to raise funding for educational initiatives throughout Delaware. The 5K run/walk will take place at Dravo Plaza in Wilmington, DE at 8:30 AM. On-site registration opens at 7:30 AM. Community education and events – like the Delaware Donor Dash – play an essential role in highlighting the importance of registering as an organ and tissue donor. Visit dedonordash.org for more information and to register.

By saying “yes” to donation, you can help put an end to the critical shortage of registered organ and tissue donors and save lives.  It only takes 30 seconds to become a registered donor at donors1.org.  By taking just 30 seconds today, you can help give someone a second chance at life.

Harrisburg Man Receives Gift of Life

August 6th, 2015

Life had always been a challenge for Harrisburg native, Daniel Snowden.  He was born with renal disease, and his kidney function continued to deteriorate throughout his life.  Although he had a corrective surgery, his kidneys continued to suffer and ultimately he was listed on the organ transplant waitlist in 1990.

He had always strived to stay active and participate in sports, running cross country and doing track and field before he became too ill.  He was able to finish college and begin working at the Southeast Region’s Department of Environmental Protection.

He remained optimistic during his waiting and understood that many people wait years before an available organ is available for transplant.  The need is great and often the wait is long for individuals who are very ill.  Currently, 6,000 people in Gift of Life’s region – eastern PA, southern NJ and DE – are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant, and minorities are the group that is affected the most. 

Sun -- Track and Field  004National Minority Donor Awareness Week, held August 1-7, honors the generosity of multicultural donors and their families, while also underscoring the critical need for minority communities to register as potential organ and tissue donors. Nationally, minority communities represent 25% of the population, but represent a startling 58% and more of those waiting on a life-saving transplant. In Gift of Life’s region, more than 50% of those waiting for a kidney transplant are minority.  Gift of Life believes this week is an important platform to build upon because lack of education is crippling minority communities.

After two years of waiting, illness and dialysis, Daniel received the call of a lifetime – a generous donor said “yes” to donation and he was going to get a second chance at life.  He speaks of his gratitude for his donor and is happy to be active again and get his life back.

Shortly after receiving his transplant, Daniel began participating in the Donate Life Transplant Games of America.  He played volleyball, basketball, bowled and did track and field.  “I am just so grateful for the unselfishness of my donor’s monumental decision.  I’m one of the many people that my donor helped.” he said.

He’s happy that he can visit his niece and nephew in Florida and keep up with them again.  He can interact with them now that he is no longer sick and exhausSat Hosp Groups --  014ted and can enjoy his life without disease.  “I think it’s so important for people to discuss their wishes with their family members.  Talk to your family about organ donation and what you want, so no one is left in the dark.” he said.

Daniel said, “There is such a need – in the minority community especially – for people who are waiting for a transplant.  We need to step up to the plate and meet this need.”

To further spread the word about donation in the minority community, Gift of Life will celebrate National Minority Donor Awareness Week the first week of August.  The week honors donors who gave the gift of life and helps to increase awareness about the critical need to register more people as organ and tissue donors.

 
 

© Gift of Life Donor Program, 401 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
    800-DONORS-1 / 800-KIDNEY-1

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