Althea Fogle has experienced both sides of organ and tissue donation, as the mother of a donor hero and a kidney recipient.
To meet Althea’s daughter Tiffany was to feel embraced by her compassionate spirit, charismatic charm and giving attitude. Tiffany touched everyone who crossed paths with her, from classmates to fellow churchgoers to strangers she met shopping.
Althea worked at the Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley for decades, often interacting with donor families, and Tiffany tagged along to community events, volunteering once she was old enough.
“She loved people,” Althea says. “She was a beautiful young lady.”
When Tiffany passed away 10 years ago, vigils were held in her honor, attended by busloads of students from Cheyney University, where Tiffany was class president.
People still ask Althea about her daughter to this day.
While organ donation was not possible due to the nature of Tiffany’s death, the family was adamant about the decision to donate Tiffany’s corneas and tissue.
Tiffany gave the gift of sight to two people thanks to the Fogles’ generosity, and her tissue donations, facilitated by Community Tissue Services, provided the opportunity for 71 tissue transplants.
‘I can’t thank God enough for my donor family’
Althea never imagined one day needing a transplant herself, but shortly after retiring in 2019, stage 5 kidney disease landed her on the waitlist.
She was preparing to start dialysis this spring when late one Saturday night, she received a call from Penn Medicine. A possible donor had been identified. The next morning, the match was confirmed.
Before Althea could head to the hospital, she had to do one more thing: attend that morning’s church services. A woman of devout faith, Althea is her church’s clerk and choir president and lost track of time that Sunday before one of her children told her it was time to leave. Surgery the next day was a success, and Althea now feels great and says her strength and endurance is returning.
“I can’t thank God enough for my donor family, for their benevolence. Without them, I wouldn’t be here,” she says.
Her message to others is simple: take care of yourself and be attentive to how you are feeling. She implores everyone to register to become an organ and tissue donor.
“You have the ability to save someone’s else life,” Althea says. “There are so many myths around being a donor. Don’t be afraid to give.”
One organ donor can save up to eight lives and a tissue donor can enhance about 100 lives. It takes less than a minute to register. To sign up to become an organ donor, click here.
About Gift of Life Donor Program
Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization, working with 129 acute care hospitals and 14 transplant centers to serve 11.3 million people in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. Thanks to its compassionate community, for the past 14 years, Gift of Life has coordinated the most organ donors in the United States. Its annual donation rate, most recently 62 organ donors-per-million-population, ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 55,000 organs for transplant, and more than two million tissue transplants have resulted from the generosity of donors and their families. For more information or to register to become a donor, visit donors1.org.