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.
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Hi- My name is Karen Thomas. I work as a Deputy Clerk at the Laurel Co. Circuit Clerks Office in London, KY. I am a living organ donor. On January 17, 2019 I donated my left kidney to my wonderful mother. My Mom had fought kidney failure for several years and put up an excellent fight until last year. Off the cuff, I had always said 'I guess I'll just have to give you a kidney some day'. Her kidney function had dropped to 13%. She was preparing for dialysis. I told her "I guess it's time I give you a kidney". Mom always put me first before herself. She wasn't real sure if she wanted her 'baby' (52 year old baby) to give up one of her kidneys. To me it was just a matter of fact. It was time. By the way, my Mom is 70 years old. She visited the University of Kentucky Transplant Center to be put on the list for a donor. Mom had to research other living donors and found it just might be OK. In mid August UK started our compatibility testing and by late November we found out we were an excellent [...]
UK Transplant Patient Grateful For a very Special Gift By Allison Perry LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 17, 2018) – The evening of June 21, while Emma Sue Mast was anxiously waiting to receive a new heart, she got a sign that immediately put her at ease: a rainbow, visible from her hospital room, that stayed alight for hours. “Donate Life’s theme this year was ‘Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud,’” Mast said. “I took that as a sign that everything was going to be all right.” Prior to noticing her rainbow, Mast – who also turned 37 years old that day – had just received the best present she could have asked for — a phone call letting her know that she was about to get a second chance at life via a heart transplant. The mother of two from Hawesville, Kentucky, had spent more than a decade battling serious heart problems. After her second son was born in 2006, she started noticing some significant changes in her health, including shortness of breath, heart palpitations and tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rate), and swelling in her legs and feet. By the following April, the issues became too severe to ignore. “I couldn’t wait [...]
When I married my husband, my oldest step daughter had already received one kidney transplant. A few years later, her kidney failed and she was placed back on the waiting list for a lifesaving kidney. Her blood type was the type that she could only receive a kidney from someone with the same type, so I was unable to help her. A few days later, I decided to treat myself to a manicure. I had never had my nails done, and a new salon went in just down the street. I called and made an appointment. Much to my surprise, the two owners were friends of mine from grade school. I hadn’t seen them in about 20 years or so. After a few visits, I realized Amy (one of the owners) was in kidney failure and was in search of a kidney. She had previously had a kidney transplant donated by her mother, but that one began to fail. I spoke up and said I would be tested if she was looking for a donor. My next appointment Amy asked if I was serious about testing and of course I was. I was set up with University of Cincinnati transplant [...]
Press Conference to Announce Details of Groundbreaking Partnership with Volunteers of America is set for April 9th at 10 a.m.
Media Contacts: Doug Scofield (VOA): 502-883-8011 Mollie LaFavers (VOA): 859-324-0181 Shelley Snyder (KODA): 502-322-5401 SAVE THE DATE: April 9th Press Conference To Announce Details of Groundbreaking Partnership with KENTUCKY ORGAN DONOR AFFILIATES, KENTUCKY CIRCUIT COURT CLERK’S TRUST FOR LIFE AND VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA -MID-STATES What: Volunteers of America to become first non-profit in the region to register organ donors directly. Details of this groundbreaking partnership will be announced at the press conference. When: Tuesday April 9, 2019 at, 10 a.m. Where: Volunteers of America located at 1025 South 2ndStreet, Louisvillle, KY 40202 Who: Jennifer Hancock, President & CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States Shelley Snyder, andExecutive Director, Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates Senator Julie Raque Adams VOA Graduate Veronica Parsley, Donor Mom David Fennell, VOA Board Member More: Volunteers of America is one of the region’s leading providers of addiction recovery services and will become the first non-profit in the region to directly register organ donors. President and CEO Jennifer Hancock andExecutive Director, Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Kentucky Organ Donor AffiliatesShelley Snyder will discuss the increase in the number of organs [...]
Life has diverse meaning for everyone, but when you experience life from a different perspective, it takes on an exceptional meaning. You see, I developed Type 1 diabetes at the age of five. I was totally dependent on insulin, taking two shots a day as well as trying to control it with my diet. I was no different than any other kid, I just had to take medicine an accepted part of my life. However, it was different when I was at a birthday party and could not have cake or had to pass up sweets while at school or any other place for that matter. It was just my way of life that I was accustomed to. I had a very productive childhood participating in sports throughout school, even college. In 1993, at the age of 28, I developed kidney disease. After two years and the long-time effects, my diabetic specialist asked if I would consider a kidney and pancreas transplant? The University of Kentucky had just gotten a new renowned transplant specialist. I agreed with apprehension and had a consultation. I was evaluated for an entire year, checking various systems repeatedly. In February 1996, I went on the [...]
This was almost a forty year long wish. It started back in the early 70’s, when I was a Patient Aide at a hospital on the Urology and General Surgery floor. I took care of men having prostate surgery, gallbladder and hernia patients, ‘open and close’ surgeries, which meant they were full of cancer. Back then, before CAT and PET scans, and MRI’s were not around, things were harder on people. Gallbladder surgery involved a minimum two-week hospital stay. Poor prostate guys were there about the same time. The cancer people? We had to check charts VERY carefully, because more often than not, the patient was not told the diagnosis. That’s a whole ‘nother story. But the patients who got to me were the kidney patients. I discovered that kidney disease affected a wide range of people; and had nothing to do with lifestyle choices. They became friends, because of frequent hospitalizations. The goal was always to get their function up to 13%, because then, no dialysis. They were mostly limited to drinking less than 12 ounces of liquid daily. Salt? Potassium? HA! So, they ate bland food, were always thirsty, had to protect the arm that the dialysis port [...]