Thursday, September 30, 2010


Organ donation is an honorable choice to make

Source: |Louisiana

Dear Rev. Graham: Our daughter has had a successful kidney transplant, and now she's urging us to sign up as organ donors. Do you see anything wrong with this? I've always been told we need to respect our bodies since God gave them to us, and I'm wondering if this might be treating them with disrespect. -- N.R.

Rev. Graham: I find nothing in the Bible to prevent you from having some of your organs removed from your body after your death and used to prolong the lives of others. Your daughter is certainly an example of its benefits.
In fact, I would encourage you to consider doing this (with the support of your family). Medical science has made many advances in this field in recent decades, and I have several friends who would have died without an organ transplant.
Perhaps some day different methods will be developed, but for the present this is the best procedure in such cases.
You're right; the Bible tells us to respect our bodies and not misuse or harm them. God gave them to us, and we are to use them for his glory. This is especially true if we are Christians, for now God lives within us by his holy spirit. The Bible says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit...? Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19--20). Allowing your organs to be used to prolong another person's life could, I believe, bring honor to God.
Some day we'll all die, and it's important to think about questions like this. But the greatest preparation you can make is to be certain of your salvation by giving your life to Jesus Christ.
Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the website for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:


Talking organ donation

Different faiths support same view

They came to discuss issues of faith and organ donation, but it was the story of a young girl and the death of her father that brought an audience to tears and brought the discussion home.
Almost 100 gathered in Thornhill Tuesday night to hear clergy from a variety of faiths discuss how religious views affect tissue and organ donation.
But when Jocelyn White took the stage and described how the process affected her children, it became more than an abstract discussion — it became the story of a family’s love.
“Back in the day, like most 16-year-olds, when I got my driver’s licence, I turned it over and signed the consent form for organ donation,” Ms White told a packed auditorium at the Heintzman House. She had no idea this simple act would resonate several times over the years, first in 1993 when her sister-in-law’s life was saved with a heart transplant. “This summer, we celebrated her daughter’s wedding in B.C.,” Ms White said, wiping her eyes. “Without that transplant, she would not have witnessed or participated.” Twelve years later, Ms White’s husband Dave died awaiting a heart transplant. “During his last moments in hospital I had one question for the nurses: ‘Can Dave be a donor for someone else?’... We wanted someone to do it for us. How could we not do it for someone else?”
Dave White’s lung, liver, kidney and pancreas were given to those in need, but his eyes — “his bright, blue, beautiful eyes” — gave her daughter pause. “She wanted to be a journalist and I told her, what if someday, somebody reads something you wrote with Dad’s eyes?”
Those words helped her make the decision and helped ease their pain “to know in our mourning, someone else was rejoicing”. “At the very worst moment of my life, something wonderful happened. Something life-enhancing, something live-saving.”
Mohan Bissoondial also moved the audience as he described despair, as he lost his eyesight and renewed life thanks to two corneal transplants. “I have a lot to be thankful for... especially the two people who had the foresight, wisdom and courage to leave their corneas.”
The question of religious belief was not a hurdle for those donors or for the White family, but for many — especially in the multicultural GTA — it can be, said Terry Winston, executive director of Hospice Thornhill. Hospice, in collaboration with Trillium Gift of Life Network, presented Tuesday’s multi-faith organ and tissue donation awareness evening.
Many of Hospice Thornhill’s clients struggle to reconcile their religious beliefs with organ donation, said Mr. Winston.
The five clergymen, representing Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Lutheran and Hindu faiths, who took part in the event agreed religious belief need not stand in the way.
Organ and tissue donation is not only permissible in the Jewish religion, said Rabbi Philip Scheim, it is a mitzvah, or obligation. “It is a duty of the highest order,” said the rabbi of Beth David B’nai Israel Beth Am in North York. “The saving of a life trumps theology.”
The Catholic faith also permits tissue and organ donation, said Father Frank Porelli, with St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church in Thornhill. “Nothing is greater than this altruism, this gift where you do not receive anything in return.”
Within the Islamic tradition, “Anyone who saves a life is said to have served humanity” and there is no clear-cut text forbidding organ donation for Muslims, said Imam Abdulla Idris Ali, a board member of the Islamic Teaching Center, North American Islamic Trust.
Pastor Derek Mathers, from the Church of St. Luke - Lutheran in North York, spoke with direct experience: his daughter’s life was saved by a liver and heart transplant. Some Protestant groups select scripture to argue against organ donation, but it is taken out of context, he said. “Nothing in the Bible forbids it.”
The Lutheran church encourages congregants to make the choice to donate, but whatever the individual decides, there should be no guilt, he said.
Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, a cardiologist and spiritual leader with Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill, noted religious texts being consulted for direction on the issue were composed long before organ donation existed, but reluctance remains among many Hindis, European communities and “especially in the Indian community which is very concerned about maiming the body”. He attributes that reluctance to lack of awareness and education. “We believe the body is not you; you are something else,” he said. “What is important is to do everything in one’s power to save or facilitate better life.”
Religions in the past may have prohibited organ donation because of danger involved in transplants, but the clergy agreed today’s medical advances have erased that danger. Donating from one faith to another — a Jewish heart being given to a Muslim patient, for example — was also considered a non-issue. “Saving a life is saving a life,” said Rabbi Scheim.
To register consent to donate, visit


New student organization helps to raise awareness

Katie O'Hara

In the state of Louisiana, there are currently 1,800 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. That is 1,800 people waiting for a kidney, pancreas, liver, heart, lung, or intestine that would improve their quality of life as well as the length.
When the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency approached Denise Mitchell, a professor in the Department of Nursing, and asked her to begin a student organization promoting organ donation, she, as well as Carly Joffrion and Katelyn Laskey, accepted the challenge.
The Club, Colonels for Life, held its first meeting Monday, September 27. Mitchell says that the club hopes to reach 25 members by the end of the Fall semester. She encourages the students to join and get involved in the Community Awareness Campaign either on the Nicholls campus or one for the surrounding area.
In addition to those who join the Colonels for Life, Mitchell states that, "students are encouraged not only to participate in the academic part of their programs but also at the community level through service learning. This club will work closely with students enrolled in my Nursing 352 Death and Dying."
As a new club on campus, Colonels for Life's mission is to "build a college community that will strengthen and support a lifelong commitment to educating, accepting, and supporting a society that accepts organ donation." They hope to accomplish this goal by "informing and encouraging NSU students and community members to register as organ, eye and tissue donors, and foster family acceptance of the process," says Mitchell.
Colonels for Life plans to inform students about where and how to register to be a donor, "students will learn that they can make their wishes known by registering as an organ donor at the DMV or through the national organ donor registry," says Mitchell. In addition, by increasing community awareness, "loss of human life or function due to the lack of donor organs or tissues will diminish," said Mitchell, "and promote a society that accepts and supports donation as natural and beneficial."
Louisiana has over 1.8 million registered organ donors. These people have volunteered their organs, eyes, and tissues. While this number seems large, there are still 1,800 people waiting for an organ. The state hopes to add another 50 thousand donors by next July, according to Members of Colonels for Life plan on participating a significant amount in reaching Louisiana's goal. They will be working with LOPA, Donate Life Louisiana, and Legacy to spread the message.
There will be a booth on Family Day to advertise for the club and their mission and they are also scheduled to have a community event in November.


Family and friends honor 16-year-old Bishop girl who died Tuesday after car wreck

Family honors her wish to be an organ donor

CORPUS CHRISTI — Rebecca Sanchez hoped to be a nurse one day, spent her summers interning at a hospital and told her family that if something ever happened to her she wanted to be an organ donor.

At 16, Rebecca was too young to make that decision alone. But when she died Tuesday after a traffic collision, her family honored that wish.

“She was a giver of love and life,” said Jackie Mendez, who oversaw Rebecca during her internships at Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg.

“She always came in with the most beautiful smile, ready to work and ready to help,” Mendez said.

On Wednesday morning, staff at Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial honored Rebecca and her family with a prayer service and flag ceremony. Rebecca’s mother, father and older brother raised a flag in front of the hospital that read: “Donate Life: Honoring Organ, Eye and Tissue Donors.”

“It was tough for them to lose her, but even so, her family made the brave decision to give the gift of life to another,” said Rey Orozco who provides family support services for Southwest Transplant Alliance. “She will continue to save lives.”

Orozco said there are more than 100,000 people waiting for organ donations around the country and 9,000 in Texas.

Emergency responders were called about 5:45 p.m. Monday on Business Highway 77 at North Sixth Street after Rebecca’s Chevy Impala pulled out in front of a Dodge pickup driven by a 36-year-old Kingsville man, police said. The car, in which her 19-month-old sister was a passenger, was struck on the driver’s side.

Her sister is in stable condition at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, officials said.

Eden Hernandez, assistant superintendent for Bishop Consolidated Independent School District, has known Rebecca since she was born.

Rebecca wanted to be a pediatric nurse one day and threw herself into her health science classes, said Hernandez, who for years has worked with her mother, who is principal at Bishop Primary School.

“She was such a popular girl and huge part of the Bishop community,” he said. “She is going to be dearly missed.”

The school district has sent several counselors to Bishop High School, where Rebecca was a junior, to talk students through the grief process, he said.

Sister Elizabeth Smith, spiritual care giver at Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg, said Rebecca would hand out teddy bears to young patients at the hospital and do whatever she could to make them laugh.

“She was as special child of God who gave joy and compassion to everyone she met,” Smith said.

“In death, Becca has given life to others and she will live on like a shining star.”


Organ recipient to run Half Marathon in memory of donor

URBANDALE, IOWA -- Press Release from Triathlons for Transplants
Triathlons for Transplants has announced that Chairman John Wright will run the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon in memory of his donor, Vanesa Thomas.  Miss Thomas, of Centerville, IA, was killed in an auto accident nearly a month after her 16th birthday and her decision to be an organ donor saved the lives of 6 people, including Mr. Wright. 
The 13.1 mile race will be Mr. Wright’s longest race distance since before his illness causing Diabetes and End Stage Renal Failure.   “It will be Vanesa’s first attempt at a race of this length and we will do it together”, said the founder of the transplant awareness group.  Wright picked this race because it will also be the 4th anniversary of his transplant surgery.  “Vanesa and I have been together for 4 years now and we have come to an understanding.  I do the easy stuff and she does the hard stuff.  When I want to stop, it’s her turn to keep me going.  We make a good team.”
Triathlons for Transplants is a group of endurance athletes that use their racing in order communicate their message to the community.  The group also speaks publicly to raise awareness to the need for more organ donors in the United States and around the world.  There are currently more than 108,000 people in the U.S. awaiting an organ transplant and 18 people die each day awaiting the life saving gift. 
“The oddest part of the Organ Donation puzzle”, says Wright, “is that 96% of Americans believe that donating organs is the right thing to do, but only 38% are registered to donate their organs.  Our puzzle is to figure out a way to get those folks that believe to sign up.”  Triathlons for Transplants utilizes a grass roots program to get people involved by telling personal stories in a small group setting. 
The IMT Des Moines Half Marathon will be held on October 17th, 2010.  Board member and living donor Doug Cutchins will run the IMT Des Moines Marathon on the same day. 
Triathlons for Transplants is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  The athletes are sponsored by Kuota of North America, Fluid Recovery Drink, and ProMotion Wetsuits.  Information on the organization can be found at  Persons interested in signing up to become an organ donor can visit 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Kidney Foundation Announces Inaugural Los Angeles Kidney Walk

By: Sylvia Cochran

Are You Ready to Sign Up?

Los Angeles goes on a Kidney Walk! Thanks to the work by volunteers from the National Kidney Foundation, 2010 marks the year that the City of Angels no longer sends supporters to other cities' walks but holds its own.  Learn about kidney transplantation and also how to become a living donor.

L.A.'s Inaugural Kidney Walk

The National Kidney Foundation announces that the 2010 Inaugural Los Angeles Kidney Walk will take place on Saturday October 16, 2010. Walkers gather at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Stadium at 8 a.m. The fundraising goal for the L.A. event is $100,000 and as of September 26, 2010 already $27,390 has been raised.

Participants should expect to walk for two miles in a non-competitive environment. There is no call to run but instead leisurely stroll. Dialysis patents are encouraged to participate in a celebration of community spirit and the many advances already made in this field of medicine.

Why Participate in the L.A. Kidney Walk?

The Kidney Foundation explains that the goal of any Kidney Walk is a mix of fundraising and community advocacy. Seeing organ recipients, living donors and those waiting for a donation walk side by side sends a strong message to Angelenos who might otherwise 'forget' that there is a way to help those suffering from kidney disease.

The funds that the organization raises go to research but also patient assistance and education programs. Plenty of participants form teams that walk in support of a kidney patient or a loved one who passed on. In addition to the benefits for kidney disease research and community awareness, the Kidney Walk is also an outstanding means of introducing children to the fine art of community service and volunteerism.

The State of Kidney Transplantation in California

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, in 2009 there were 44 pediatric and 669 adult kidney transplants performed from living donors. Of these, 10 were from unrelated and anonymous living donors. The youngest kidney recipient - from live or deceased donors -- in 2009 was under one year of age. The majority of kidney recipients ranged in age from 50 to 64.


By Travis Roemhild Ahwatukee Foothills News |

Helping people isn't a hobby for Cynthia Bowers. She has made it a full-time commitment.
But Bowers is not just volunteering her own time. Through her website, she is matching up other people who want to volunteer with organizations that need outside help. The Ahwatukee Foothills mother of two has started two separate organizations to meet this goal, one for individuals and the other for companies.
In recognition of her dedication, Bowers, who left a full-time job, was named in August as a candidate for the Beth McDonald Woman of the Year, an annual award from 99.9 KEZ in Phoenix.
The former electronics distributer doesn't look at helping others as an option; she looks at it as a necessity.
"I don't know what makes my personality type the way it is," she said. "But my first reaction is always how can I give back."
In late 2008, Bowers gave in a big way. She anonymously donated a kidney to a young dying boy at Phoenix Children's Hospital. This came after first discovering that a living person could donate one of their kidneys.
"When I discovered you could donate an organ, I knew I wanted to save the life of a child," she said.
But there was no streamlined process in place to get her to the operating table. There are programs for adults to give to other adults, but Bowers was set on giving her kidney to a child in need.
"The truth is, I don't know, we are who we are," she said. "When I heard that it was even possible, there wasn't any question in my mind that I wouldn't do it."
After extensive testing, Bowers received good news when the doctors at Phoenix Children's Hospital decided to run her tests against the list of kids on the transplant list. She ended up matching with an 11-year-old boy.
"After that I went through more intense procedures," Bowers said. "The doctors really had to dig and see if his body would attack my kidney. But it came back that our matching scores were equivalent as if we were siblings. It was then that I really started to push for it."
In December 2008, after more than a year of tests and waiting, Bowers went under the knife and her kidney was sent to the boy. She called the event "inspiring" and it left her with a desire to further her humanitarian efforts.
"It was a big thing in my life," she said. "Afterwards, it was kind of like, what do I do now? What do I do with this energy after this really inspiring event?"
Bowers started a search for volunteer opportunities. But it was more frustrating than she expected due to things like filling out applications, and going to training classes or interviews.
"I was trying to volunteer but it was hard to find openings," she said. "I don't want to take a training class; I just want to feed the homeless tonight. Why is it so hard to feed the homeless?"
This led to her creating the organization Phoenix Volunteers, which is a website that anyone can go on and see opportunities in the area.
"It's a grassroots organization that gives people the chance to give back to the community," Bowers said.
She also started Employee Reach, a non-profit organization that connects companies with volunteer opportunities for their employees. The companies can track the amount of hours their employees donate.
"I just think it is so fantastic that companies do this," Bowers said. "Some don't have resources right now to donate financially. This gives them another way to show their support for the community."
To find volunteer opportunities, visit the Phoenix Volunteers website,, or Employee Reach,


Donor Alliance honored for business achievments and community leadership

Donor Alliance, the federally-designated organ procurement organization and American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) accredited tissue bank serving Colorado and most of Wyoming, was named the 2010 Champion in Health Care winner in the small health care facility category by the Denver Business Journal. This annual recognition event honors Colorado's most outstanding health care companies and professionals for their innovation, professional accomplishments and community leadership.

Established in 1985, Donor Alliance facilitates the donation and recovery of organs for people needing transplants, promotes organ and tissue donation throughout Colorado and Wyoming and supports donor families during their time of need.
At the close of 2009, Donor Alliance recovered organs for transplant from 115 donors resulting in 368 organ transplants - 12 more than in 2008 and 56 more than 2007. Additionally, the organization reported 894 total tissue donors.
Colorado's donor registry, Donate Life Colorado, ended 2009 as the one of the nation's highest performing state donor registries with 64 percent of people saying yes to donation and registering as organ and tissue donors when obtaining or renewing their driver's license. Wyoming was in the top five highest performing registries in the country with 55 percent of people saying yes at the Department of Transportation.
"On behalf of Donor Alliance, we are honored to receive this award in the company of such innovative and accomplished health care leaders," said Sue Dunn, president and CEO of Donor Alliance. "While we are privileged to come to work each day, contributing to ending the wait for those needing lifesaving organs and tissues, we recognize that Donor Alliance exists because of the generosity of donor families and the courage of recipients. We encourage all citizens who have not made the decision to be organ and tissue donors to register their decision to help the nearly 2,000 Coloradans waiting for a transplant."
For more information about organ and tissue donation, please visit To register to be an organ and tissue donor, please visit or call 303-329-4747 or toll-free at 1-888-256-4386 for more information.
About Donor Alliance
Donor Alliance is the federally-designated, non-profit organ procurement organization and an American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) accredited tissue bank serving Colorado and most of Wyoming. As a recognized leader in facilitating the donation and recovery of transplantable organs and tissues, Donor Alliance's mission is to save lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. To achieve this mission, Donor Alliance employs an effective family approach and recovery programs in more than 100 hospitals. Donor Alliance also inspires the public to register as organ and tissue donors through community partnerships, public outreach and education campaigns throughout its donation service area.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


ESPN My Wish: Anna Schmidt's journey

By Kaitee Daley | ESPN

At 13 years old, Green Bay Packers fan Anna Schmidt has been through more than any bruised-up NFL veteran. Anna began experiencing stomachaches in November. Soon thereafter, she developed a cough. At first, doctors thought it was asthma or acid buildup. But a few weeks later, the Schmidts received news that would dramatically alter their lives.
Anna had dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart that was big in size but small on function. When they placed her on Milrinone -- a medicine to help her failing heart contract more powerfully -- doctors were pleasantly surprised by the way her body reacted. The medication gave the Schimdts hope that a serious procedure could be avoided.
Soon, that hope began to fade.
"Every time they tried to pull her off the medicine, her heart would just fail," said Brian Schmidt, Anna's father. You can't just keep going on Milrinone because it'll burn your heart out."
Anna, of Horicon, Wis., remained in the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin over the holidays. With her health showing little improvement, it was finally decided that she would need to be placed on the heart transplant list.
Shortly after this decision, things got worse. Anna experienced more pain, more stomachaches. In mid-February, it became apparent that the heart Anna was born with couldn't sustain itself until a donor came -- she would need an artificial heart.
It took 17 hours of surgery to install the Berlin heart, a device designed to help assist heart function until a donor is found. That was in late February, and the hope was that she'd start eating and feeling better once the pump was in place.
Yet once again, hope was crushed.
The artificial heart gave Anna just enough to keep her going, but it came at a life-threatening price.
"The problem with this pump is that it can cause blood clots, which lead to strokes," Schimdt said. "And she had a pretty significant series of strokes approximately one week after they put on the pump."
To prevent blood clots, doctors had to change out the pump nearly once a week -- a dangerous procedure in itself. Just when they thought it couldn't get any worse, a CT scan revealed a hemorrhage in her brain.
12 years old at the time. Countless strokes. Brain surgery. Heart surgery. About 17 tubes running into her body. But Anna had heart.
"You ask a lot of questions 'Why us? Why does this just continue to get worse and worse?' Every day was another experience in terror. ... She probably had to have the paddles put on her five or six times," Schmidt said. "But we relied on our faith. 'God's in control,' we kept telling ourselves. 'He's going to see us through this somehow.'"
[+] EnlargeAnna
Mike McGinnis/ESPNAnna Schmidt examines her new Green Bay Packers locker, complete with a personalized jersey and autographed game ball.
On March 29, Brian got a call at work from his wife Jean, who was at the hospital with Anna. Hope. The hospital had found a match for Anna, and doctors were close to giving her surgery the green light.
Within 48 hours of receiving her new heart, Anna was feeling better than she had in months. She was eating and beating on her own, improving every day. Yet Anna's strokes had severely debilitated her. She had to relearn how to walk and talk. The tasks we take for granted were daily struggles for her and her family.
During this time, the Schmidts were contacted by the Make-A-Wish foundation. When Anna was told to wish big, she thought about a family vacation to a warm climate. Then, she thought about the Packers.
"Most Sundays in the fall we have breakfast, go to church, and then invite a few people over for the Packers game," Schmidt said. "Anna's always had this love for watching Packers games and having a little party. She likes to entertain."
When Anna found out in mid-August that the Packers were going to entertain her at their house, she burst into tears of happiness.
"It was such a precious moment," Schmidt recalled. "She went absolutely bonkers."
Nearly 24 hours after receiving the exciting news, Anna and the rest of her family pulled up to Lambeau Field in a limo: the beginning of a day filled with star treatment. When she walked out onto the field for the first time, a huge group of people were cheering in the stands, dressed from head to toe in Packers gear and all there to support Anna.
Then, the man who sat by Anna's bed when she could barely move, the one who helped her go from a wheelchair to a bike, was the one to lift her into the stands for her very own Lambeau leap. 
Anna even had a personalized Packers locker and uniform right next to a big star: quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Throughout Packers practice, Rodgers would look over at the sideline and wave to his newest friend. As drills began to wind down, head coach Mike McCarthy invited Anna to close practice, introducing her to the team and letting her lead all 85 guys in a break.
Although she still struggles a lot with her right arm and hand, Anna was more than happy to participate in a few postpractice activities. Ryan Grant showed her how to run with the football, and Rodgers aired a few passes in her direction.
"You'd think they were almost big brother and little sister," Schmidt said of Anna's interaction with Rodgers. "The way they were joking around ... it was so cool."
Aaron Rodgers & Anna
Mike McGinnis/ESPNIt's Packers tradition for players to ride to the practice field on the bicycles of young fans, so Anna lent her wheels to Aaron Rodgers.
Cornerback Al Harris, one of Anna's favorite players, didn't practice that day but came in to spend some time with her. Anna cracked jokes about his hair and asked about Brett Favre (to which players lightheartedly pled the fifth). She was such a joy to be around that the team asked her to stay through its second practice and attend its preseason game the next day.
As the Packers ran out onto the Lambeau grass that Saturday, Rodgers peeled away from the rest of the team and jogged across the field. He hugged Anna and lifted her in the air -- an emotional pick-me-up that went far beyond its physical implications. 
"The whole experience was just amazing for our family," Schmidt said. "We went through a lot, but those days with the Packers are days that we'll remember for the rest of our lives."
Schmidt talked at length about the doctors, nurses, and donor family who helped save Anna's life. He talked about their close-knit community and the outpouring of love and support during difficult times, about the people who helped give him and his family strength when they needed it most.
But the most inspiring image of all is that of his 13-year-old daughter: a walking symbol of heart and hope.