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“Organ Donation is the Greatest Mitzvah” – Donor Sister Gives Back

Inspired by her brother's selfless choice to register as an organ donor and give the gift of life in his passing, Rosie now gives back in her own way by volunteering for Gift of Life Howie's House.

The holiday season is based on giving and gratitude.  For one Mt. Laurel, NJ woman, Rosie Lemansky, her life revolves around these principles every day.  In 2006, after the tragic loss of her brother, Roger Garrett, to a brain hemorrhage, she decided to begin giving back.  Although Roger’s death was heartbreaking for Rosie and her family, they made the selfless decision for him to be an organ and tissue donor.  This choice to say “yes” has allowed Roger’s legacy to be one of generosity and compassion.  It has also encouraged Rosie to become a passionate advocate for organ and tissue donation.

Each Tuesday morning, Rosie is at the Gift of Life Howie’s House, volunteering her time and making a difference in the lives of transplant patients and their families who are staying at the House.  Created in 2011, Gift of Life’s Gift of Life Howie’s House is a “home away from home” for individuals seeking transplant-related care in Philadelphia.  Rosie helps stock the pantry at the Gift of Life Howie’s House, talks with patients and cooks for the Home Cook Heroes program, which provides homemade meals for the House’s guests.

“It’s so wonderful being at the Gift of Life Howie’s House, and it feels good to meet so many recipients and other donor families.” said Rosie.  “When Roger passed away, I didn’t know anything about donation or all of the people waiting. At the hospital, our Rabbi assured us that Roger being an organ donor was the greatest mitzvah that a person can do, and we made the decision for him to donate.  Thinking about all of the people who he helped, it has brought my family a lot of happiness.”

As Hanukah begins this year, Rosie reflects lovingly on her brother and is grateful that she knows he enhanced people’s lives – both in life and in death.  “I’ve heard a lot of different beliefs about organ donation, and I tell people my story so they can see another side.  It is really the worst time in a family’s life when someone dies, and it is really hard.  But I know that after the fact, my brother being a donor is the one light that has brought me joy.” she said.

2 comments on "“Organ Donation is the Greatest Mitzvah” – Donor Sister Gives Back"

  1. Ilana Pekar says:

    I have been kept alive on dialysis for 21 yrs. I am using the last possible access available on my body and I don’t know how long this will last. I have never complained about my lot in life which is probably why Hashem has seen to keep me alive for so long. I am a new grandmother at 62yrs. and would really benefit from a live donor kidney transplant. I would love to live to see my grandson bar mitzvah. I am highly sensitized. If you think that you can help me I would be so very grateful.

  2. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My father passed suddenly in 2014 and he was a donor. I agree it’s provided a little light in a dark situation. Reading your story reminds me it can be something one can hold onto in times of saddness. The fact that you donate your time is inspiring to me and gives me something to thing about. God bless you and your family .

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