/Gift of Life Stories
Gift of Life Stories 2018-02-06T13:43:57-05:00

Each person who is connected to donation and transplantation has walked a unique path.  Our stories are woven together with a similar thread – the fabric of donation and transplantation – yet the beauty of each one is that the people who fill our tales are unique to our lives.

Participation in Gift of Life Stories is available to everyone impacted by donation and transplantation. Sharing yours or your loved one’s story honors their memory and conveys a message of hope – that everyone shares the gift of life.

You can search our database of stories by first name or look at all the stories within a specific Kentucky, West Virginia or Indiana county.

Thank you for visiting the Gift of Life Stories to learn more about donor and recipient families. Click here to share your Gift of Life story.


Lori-Heart and Kidney Recipient, Benita- Lori’s Living Kidney Donor

Stories written and published by Stevie Lowery, Editor of Lebanon Enterprise She’s got heart Have you ever met a person who has gone through so much during his or her life that you can’t comprehend how they’re still standing, let alone smiling? Well, Lori Caldwell is one of those people. Nearly 19 years ago, she had a heart transplant. She had been diagnosed with post-partum cardiomyopathy after having her daughter, Cameron, on July 2, 1996. The left side of her heart no longer functioned, and doctors didn’t know what caused it. “I was always worried about having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,” Caldwell said. “Never in a million years did I think something might be wrong with me.” So, instead of getting to go home with her newborn baby girl, Lori was transferred to Norton Hospital in Louisville where doctors explained that about a third of patients with her condition improved, another third could be maintained on medication and another third… “Well, they didn’t exactly say,” Lori said. For the first 17 months of her baby girl’s life, Lori was in and out of hospitals constantly. Eventually, she was put on the heart transplant list at the young [...]

By | June 11th, 2018|Categories: Marion|0 Comments

Destiny- Donor

Our Destiny lived life full of energy, enthusiasm, and unselfish love.  Her vibrance was always evident in her beautiful smile and laughter, whether she was dancing, cheering, winning beauty pageants or picking up other’s litter on the road side. Destiny wanted to encourage and help others, simply giving a smile, kind words and forgiveness easily; loving to give to those in need because it was just the “right thing to do” and “be like Jesus”.  So wise beyond her 10 years! On an unimaginable day in 2010, our beautiful girl’s life was cut short when  Destiny and her grandmother were hit by a drunk driver. From this horrific tragedy came the live-saving opportunity for 5 organ recipients in 3 states, plus many more lives improved through the generous gifts that Destiny’s family agreed to through organ and tissue donation.  Now other families get to enjoy their loved ones, as well as precious Destiny.  We hope to meet them someday. Through the last 7 years, we have celebrated the milestones that Destiny should have and thought of the families doing the same from Destiny’s gifts.  We know that they are grateful for another day and year with their own precious loved [...]

By | April 23rd, 2018|Categories: Martin|0 Comments

Dan-Kidney Recipient

My family has a history of poly cystic kidney disease. My mother, uncle, and brother have had kidney transplants, all from deceased donors. I have a sister and daughter that both have PDK. I received a kidney transplant September 17, 2009. I received a kidney from a living donor, a lady from the church I serve. Transplantation has greatly enhanced my life, I'm able to live a normal life and continue to serve the Lord as pastor of a local church. I have always been competitive and transplantation has allowed me to continue to compete. I have participated in the Transplant games every 2 years since 2010.  I actively encourage people to seek transplantation and to support transplantation. There are 130 million on the organ donor registry, stats that I have read , state that some 95% of the population support organ donation , but only some 56% are registered. In my own experience there is a great need for education concerning organ donation. At an event a while ago , this lady approached the registry table and said they have lived long enough, I asked they who, she replied those who need organ transplants, I replied have I lived [...]

By | April 23rd, 2018|Categories: Lincoln|0 Comments

Paula-Living Kidney Donor

My sister, Laurie, was diagnosed with a lupus-like condition which caused her kidneys to deteriorate. She was 31 years old. Laurie's doctors mentioned that sometime in her life, sooner than later, she would need a kidney transplant. I eagerly volunteered to donate my kidney. Not only was Laurie my sister, she was my best friend. The decision was an easy one for me. Whatever pain or inconvenience I would experience from donation would be temporary. Laurie's situation, however, was permanent and eventually fatal without a kidney transplant. When I went through the donor testing process, I was found to be a perfect match. I was certain from the minute  we were told Laurie needed a transplant, that I would be the one to donate to her. Organ donation was something I knew about since I was in grade school. There was a gentlemen in my community who received a heart after waiting several years. Through him, I saw firsthand the positive effects of donation. I was so happy to be able to help my sister in the same way. I honestly had no fear. We marched forward with the transplant and everything turned out beautifully. Our advisers and surgeons were [...]

By | April 23rd, 2018|Categories: Jefferson|0 Comments

Tom-Liver Recipient

Tom at Mobius Arch After my 50th birthday, my wife, Ann, urged me to get a physical check-up. I felt there was no need because I was seemingly in such good health; it had been years since my last physical, I took no prescription medicine and other than the random cold, I rarely got sick. My blood work told a different story. There were anomalies in my liver numbers, and we soon discovered that I had Hepatitis C and stage four cirrhosis. This started a 10 year ordeal of weekly trips to the doctor, several vain attempts at a cure, and a steady decline in health. On one of my many check-ups, an MRI revealed three small lesions on my liver, hepatocellular carcinoma, the all too often result of long-term liver disease. Treatment of those tumors became another part of my medical regimen. As I continued to get weaker and sicker, a transplant increasingly became the only option for treatment. Because of the tumors my MELD score was high, so I was near the top of the transplant list. We waited about a year and a half before we got the call that a liver was available. We [...]

By | April 19th, 2018|Categories: Jefferson|0 Comments

Jeff-Heart Recipient

August 2, 2014 – Our journey began! While on reserve duty at Ft Knox, KY I had an unstoppable coughing event, so I went to Ireland Army Hospital where I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I went through several procedures to try and avoid a transplant, but none were effective enough. June 19, 2015- The decision was made to try to keep me healthy enough to get a heart transplant. I entered the hospital on September 4, 2015 (Friday before Labor Day). We were told to get used to spending holidays in the hospital. At 8:45 pm on September 15, 2015 Dr. Andrew Lenneman came into my room and asked if I was still interested in a heart, because one had become available. The recovery team went to check out the donor heart and returned with it. Surgery was scheduled at 6:00 am on September 16, 2015. On this journey the right doctors were placed to make the right decisions! The nurses who cared for me/us are at the top of their profession. They are the best! The brief time on the transplant waiting list. The perfect heart and 30 months of zero rejection. All medical miracles. Angels walking [...]

By | April 13th, 2018|Categories: Friends of Kentucky|0 Comments