Our blog is place for us to share news, information and resources about LifeSource and donation and transplantation. Most of the content posted here is courtesy of a select few writers at LifeSource, whose posts reflect their views and perspective on the topic about which they are writing. Our writers are asked to abide by a code of ethics when sharing information both here and across the web.
We also welcome guest posts on our blog. Please contact Rebecca Ousley if you are interested in sharing your thoughts or experiences. We hope you’ll join the conversation!
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For the past five years it has been our privilege to honor a donor from the communities we serve with a floragraph on the Donate Life Float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. This memorial portrait constructed of natural materials adorns the float as a tribute to the honoree, as well as donors and donor families everywhere. It is an amazing sight to behold.
We are grateful for the opportunity to honor Andrea Cleveland on the 2013 Donate Life Float. A sixteen year old girl from Corsica, SD, Andrea had a sweet, fun-loving spirit. “Wherever she was, she always lit up the room,” shares her father.
On November 1, 2011, Andrea lost control of her car while driving on an unfamiliar rural road and later died from her injuries. Andrea registered to be an organ, eye and tissue donor when she received her driver’s license and her parents proudly supported her decision. Her gifts of organ donation saved the lives of five people and her gifts of tissue donation are helping others across the country.
In just a few short weeks Andrea’s floral portrait will join 71 others to proudly share the hope and healing of organ, eye and tissue donation. Before it can adorn the float, however, it needs to be decorated.
On Friday, December 14th Andrea’s parents, Jeff and Marlene Cleveland, will lovingly put the final touches on Andrea’s floragraph at an event at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. The floragraph will then be carefully shipped to Pasadena, CA to join the other incredible portraits of men, women and children who have saved and healed lives through donation.
Shortly after Christmas the Clevelands will travel to Pasadena to help finish the Donate Life Float, find camaraderie and healing with other donor families and transplant recipients, and watch their daughter’s portrait inspire the 700,000 people in attendance along the parade route. Tens of millions more will tune in by television and internet around the world.
When you look at Andrea’s picture you can see the warmth and generosity in her smile. It is an honor for us to be able to share her beautiful smile with the world to inspire others to be as warm and generous as she was, and to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor.
Every day Deb Bowman works on behalf of the citizens of South Dakota as Senior Advisor to Governor Daugaard. The kidney transplant she received more than 12 years ago helps make that possible.
Born with just one functioning kidney that began to fail, Deb’s quality of life was declining fast. Although she continued to work full-time in the months and years leading up to her transplant, it took every ounce of energy.
“I’d work, go home and go right to bed,” she shares. “My husband would bring me dinner in bed. All I could do was work, eat and sleep. I slept right through most weekends as my kidney continued to fail.”
By the spring of 2000, her kidney was working at just 12%. The younger of her two daughters, Jessamine, generously gifted her with a new kidney. She was a sophomore in college at the time. “She’s a very brave young woman,” says Deb.
In the 12 years since her transplant, Deb has been able to see grandchildren born, attend family celebrations and see Jessamine through her wedding and now expecting her first child. “It’s been such a blessing.”
Professionally, she’s been able to meet presidents, champion donation and work on some incredible things for the citizens of South Dakota. In 2001, the state led the nation as one of the first to pass legislation that said a person’s lifetime decision to be a donor needs to be honored. She helped establish a donor family recognition ceremony with Governor Janklow to thank all donors and donor families for their gifts of life at the state level. And she continues to be a strong advocate for donation at the state.
Talking about her gift of a kidney from her daughter still brings tears to her eyes. “When you give life to someone, you never expect that they’ll do that for you in return. That’s what my daughter did – she gave me life.”
Every day, nurses around the country are inspiring hope. The profession is consistently rated one of the most trustworthy in the United States.
It’s no surprise then, that the nurses at Rapid City Regional Hospital were honored to share their support for donation as part of a project called Donate Life Black Hills. Nine nurses helped shape a campaign that showcased the hospital’s commitment to supporting families and honoring the donation decisions of the patients they serve.
Donate Life Black Hills was shared with the community through advertising, public events and the driver’s license offices with the goal of increasing the number of registered donors in the area. The program was generously supported through a grant from the federal government and raised community support for donation by nearly 7%.
Sometimes I take for granted being able to see my children grow and experience life. There are many people struggling with the idea of never being able to do just that. I also think about the simple things of seeing the color of the sky or feeling a nurturing touch. Those are all things that are lost with a life, but can be saved with donation.
Three compelling commercials were created – “Facts,” “Your Wishes” and “Legacy”. Watch “Legacy” below and find the other two on our YouTube channel. Share them with your friends and colleagues and follow the lead of the Rapid City Regional Nurses and inspire HOPE by registering to be a donor and sharing your wishes with your family.
Brian Pavel loved the outdoors. A native of South Dakota, the Black Hills he called home were one of his favorite places to explore. He had a passion for Wild Mustang horses, hiking, fishing, photography and his family. “He had such a kind heart,” shares his dad. “That’s one of the things we miss the most.”
In 2007, Brian was working in construction when he was fatally injured in an accident. It was no surprise to Brian’s parents, Doug and Carol, or his sister Katie that he chose to register as a donor. “He genuinely cared for others,” shares Doug.
Brian’s gifts of organ donation saved the lives of five people and his gifts of tissue have impacted 44 people in more than 30 states ranging in age from 12 years old to 72 years old. Donation has been a gift not only for those recipients, but also for Brian’s family.
“The one thing no parent wants is for their child to be forgotten,” shares Doug. “Through donation we know that Brian will never be forgotten. It gives us hope that Brian is still living, because he is. Even though he’s not physically with us, we’re reminded of him every time we talk with his recipients or share his story to encourage others to be donors.”
Watch Brian’s dad share more about their story and their journey through donation. Be inspired to share it with others and register to be an organ and tissue donor today.
Meet Mike and Tom, brothers who, along with their mother, were diagnosed with a hereditary disease called Fuch’s corneal dystrophy. Only a small percentage of people are diagnosed with this disease, which can cause a person to slowly go blind.
Thanks to the generosity of eye donors, both brothers received cornea transplants that restored their vision.
“Literally within 24 hours, I could see the difference. I could see clearly. The fog had been lifted that soon,” Tom said.
“I noticed that my son had freckles on his nose. I’d never noticed that before and it was just an amazing thing to see clear enough to see freckles on my son’s nose,” Mike said.
“It’s been such a blessing to us,” Tom said. “I mean, my mother, my brother and possibly my other brother and sister down the line, what they do here at the eye bank is incredible.”
Born and raised in South Dakota, Tim loves the outdoors. “I’ve become obsessed, if you will, with fly fishing. It’s one of my favorite things to do,” he shares.
A heart attack when he was just 33 years old nearly took his life. Being listed for a heart transplant brought hope. “There was hope,” he shares. ”I was on the list. And there were donors out there willing to give the ultimate gift.”
It’s been more than six years since Tim received that ultimate gift and he looks for opportunities to connect with and thank donor families. Tim serves on the LifeSource board of directors and attends donor family events as often as possible. “Any way that I can help donor families through their grieving process or show them that something good came out of the bad things that happened to them, that’s what I want to do.”
Watch Tim’s story and then share it with others to inspire them to register as a donor today.
It was TroyLyn Joseph, Victor’s mom, who asked the doctor’s at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls if he would have the opportunity to donate his organs and tissues. She knew the tragic accident he was involved in had taken his life but that there might be a chance for him to save the lives of others. “They told me Victor had checked the box,” she shares.
It’s not surprising that Victor registered to be a donor. “Since the kids were young I’ve stressed to them how important it is to do even one small thing to brighten someone’s life,” TroyLyn shares. “Victor lived that way each and every day and still is by giving new hope to others. Be it his heart, his kidneys or even his corneas, he has kept on giving and for that I am so very proud of him.”
A native of Watertown, Vic most recently lived in Mitchell, SD where he channeled his love of motorcycles into a career at Klock Werks Kustom Cycles. After his death, the Klock Werks family, with the support of Victory Motorcylces, created a custom motorcyle called “Tattooed for Life.” The bike pays tribute to Victor and another person close to the Klock Werks family, Austin Shimon, who was also a donor upon his death in 2009. Watch the story of the bike:
The bike has traveled the country and was auctioned off this fall to a lucky winner in Baltic, South Dakota. Laura Klock shares about their creation and promotion of the bike on the Klock Werks blog:
It’s not that we set out to be spokespeople for organ donation. That wasn’t in the business plan, or our life plans. But we’ve been touched by it, and decided to share our experiences with you. Organ donation ended up being a unique blessing in not one, but two, tragedies that touched the hearts of our team. So we decided to honor the wonderful work that Donate Life does, and the amazing choice that Vic and Austin made to “check the box”. Until something touches you personally, you don’t always understand the depth of a simple decision.
TroyLyn has shared in the promotion of the bike and was there when the winner was drawn earlier this fall. “It was very tragic losing my son,” she shares, ”but his giving others HOPE for a longer, healthier life is a huge ray of sunshine in my heart.”
Follow Victor’s lead and share HOPE with others by registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor today.
When Andrea applied for her first driver’s license she registered to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. She was proud of her decision, excitedly showing her siblings and her friends her new license when it arrived, saying “I’m a donor!”
No one could have predicted the tragedy that preceded her gifts of donation just a short while later. Following her death in November 2011, Andrea’s parents, Jeff and Marlene, supported her decision that saved the lives of five people through organ donation and provided the gift of tissue donation to many more.
On January 1, 2013 the world will get a glimpse of Andrea Cleveland. Andrea is one of 72 generous donors being honored on the Donate Life Float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Her smile radiates hope.
Watch Andrea’s story, share it with your friends and spread hope by registering to be a donor today. And don’t forget to tune in to the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day!