The Whig | Tori Stafford
One organ donor can save up to eight lives. That’s a staggering fact — and one that keeps Cindy Cherry active in organ donation advocacy.
For Cherry, when it comes to the matter of organ donation, the most important factor is raising awareness of the need for donors. The best way to do this is the sharing of success stories — like the one she travelled to Kingston this past weekend to share.
Cherry makes no attempt to hide her celebrity status. She’s even self re-titled herself “DCD,” for Don Cherry’s Daughter. But if she was trying to hide her famous lineage, well ... it would be hard.
Cherry speaks with all the raw honesty her father has become famous for — no smoke and mirrors — just the straight-up truth of her opinion.
And her opinion on organ donation is one that stems from a success story of her own organ donation some 30 years ago.
In town for the inaugural Celebration of Life Ceremony held by the Kingston Branch of the Transplant Advocate Association, Cherry stood before some 50 people on Saturday to tell that story.
After graduating from the Animal Care Technology course at St. Lawrence College, Cherry had returned to Boston, where Daddy Grapes was coaching the Bruins at the time. She was unaware of just how ill her younger brother, Tim, had become, she said.
Having been ill in his youth, Tim had been prescribed a lot of medication that, in turn, compromised his kidneys.
“It wasn’t until he was about 16 that it actually caught up with him, and then they realized his kidneys were failing, and so he had to go on dialysis,” Cherry shared.
“And that’s an awful thing to go through.”
At that point, it became obvious Tim would require a kidney transplant.
Cherry, along with her late mother, Rose, and father, Don, went in for testing to see who in the family would be the best match to donate one of their kidneys.
“The blood work came back, and it was like Tim and I were … twins,” Cherry said, smiling broadly.
From there, she and Tim underwent all the preliminary testing and preparations for the surgery and transplant. Being at Massachusetts General Hospital, however, was far from an awful experience for Cherry, she said.
Two of the Bruins players, Wayne Cashman and Brad Park, were in the same hospital for back and knee procedures, respectively. With her father out coaching the team, Cherry watched the Bruins games with the two team members in the common room.
With a game the same day as the siblings were set to have surgery, Cherry never thought her father would make it back to the hospital in time to see them. She’d earlier received visits from the referee and linesmen for the game that night, and expressed that visiting hours ended at 10 p.m., close to the time the game would likely end.
But if it wasn’t already obvious the Cherry family had the support of the players and the officials Don worked with all the time — the Bruins had already taken time out to donate blood with their wives in the Cherry siblings’ names — it became evident that night.
While watching the game with Cashman and Park, the trio couldn’t help but notice that there were an awful lot of calls being waved off.
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