WOODSTOCK, Va. (WDVM) — An an organ donor recipient, Kathy Chrisman of Luray, Va. has every reason to support life-net and organ donations. She received a new liver in 2007.
“It’s difficult, you’re excited because you’re going to get well,” she said, adding that it comes at a price: the life of another.
She knows first hand the impact of organ and tissue donation from the other side of the equation as well. When her husband died of a heart attack, his donations went to 27 recipients.
“As a donor family member, it has helped a great deal with my grief to know my husband is still helping other people,” she said.
Chrisman and others touched by organ and tissue donation gathered at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital for the unveiling of the hospital’s new Tree of Life–a memorial for those whose bodies have changed the lives of others.
“It gives some meaning to their death and it gives us a way to remember them forever and living on in other people,” said Rick Fowler, the director of hospital services with the organization LifeNet Health, a non-profit which works with families and medical professionals to facilitate organ and tissue transplants.
For family members of donors, like Tammy Barr, seeing the impact their loved ones made makes all the difference. Her daughter Jessica’s donation impacted 71 other people after the 21-year-old drowned when her car got swept off a flooded bridge.
“It’s a bittersweet kind of thing that was very hard to celebrate at the time,” Barr said. “But I treasure and cherish knowing that she’s helped so many people and that so many lives are going to go on because of her.”
Barr says anyone who can donate should become a donor.
“Don’t leave it up to myths or hearsays as being a reason not to. But just to sign up and say I’m going to be a donor and let the doctors decide what is useful and what is not and not themselves.”
According to Fowler, nearly 114,000 Americans are waiting for an organ transplant. To become a donor, visit https://www.lifenethealth.org/ or register in person at a local Department of Motor Vehicles location.