Faced with tragic loss, families must face the difficult choice of organ donation

Pittsburgh Post Gazette | Joe Smydo
Kelli Jo Lovich visits the grave of her 4-year-old son, Colbee, in mid-October in Butler. “I visit him twice a day, every day,” she said. Colbee was killed in an ATV accident in 2014. Mrs. Lovich decided to donate his organs to help preserve his memory.

That’s what Kelli Jo Lovich said when she was asked to donate the organs of her 4-year-old son, Colbee, who died after suffering severe brain injuries last year in an ATV accident in Butler County.

But Mrs. Lovich recalled that Shannon Pribik, a procurement coordinator with the O’Hara-based Center for Organ Recovery and Education, persisted. Ms. Pribik answered questions, promised there would be minimal trauma to Colbee during organ recovery and agreed to stay by his side until the funeral director arrived for his body.

Mrs. Lovich relented. “He was only 4,” she said of Colbee, “but he loved to help.”

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Procurement coordinators are on the front lines of the nation’s overwhelmed transplant system.

They approach families like the Loviches in the midst of a tragic loss and ask them — when their grief is raw and their spouse, child or sibling is tethered to machines in the intensive care unit — to donate their loved one’s organs so that others can live. Continue reading

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