Organ-donor families celebrate 25 years of life


When she was 13 years old, Danielle MacKinzie, of Sonoma, decided she wanted to be an organ donor.

Danielle spotted the organ donor symbol on her mother’s driver’s license. After a brief explanation about what the symbol was, Danielle decided that she, too, would check the organ donation box when she received her license at age 16.

However, Danielle’s wish to save the lives of others happened sooner than expected. The 14-year-old Sonoma Valley High School student died suddenly in 1991 of complications from a tonsillectomy and, within 24 hours, her heart and liver were transplanted into two women.

Barbara Young, of Sacramento, was the recipient of young Danielle’s liver, and has lived a life of gratitude ever since.

Young, now 76, was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease in 1989 – and by 1991 medicine was the only thing keeping her alive. After the successful transplant, Young devoted her life to giving back, by speaking about the importance of organ donations to the public, as well as to nurses, who are often set with the task of educating families about organ donation at hospitals.

“All through my journey of the illness the nurses that helped me were absolutely wonderful, so kind,” said Young, “I made a promise to myself that I would thank every nurse I came across.” Since receiving Danielle’s liver, Young has spoken to thousands of nurses and community members about the life-saving nature of transplants. Continue reading
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