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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Bill “Cody” Rose, a retired truck driver and motorcycle fanatic, began feeling under the weather one Christmas. After further examination with his Doctor it was found that Bill’s blood sugar levels were exceptionally high. He was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, but was also informed there was a more serious illness present; he also had Hepatitis C. Bill began treatment for his Hepatitis, but ultimately would need a transplant. During his wait, Bill received two calls of having a donor, both of which fell through. Bill finally got a third phone call that ultimately changed his life forever. In March 2016, Bill underwent a successful liver transplant. Three years later, Bill is feeling better than ever. He enjoys riding his motorcycle and spending time with his daughter and grandson. He is thankful for his donor and the second chance of life he has been given and encourages everyone to be an organ donor. Bill’s philosophy is live life to the fullest and enjoy each day you have. Thankfully because of his donor, Bill is able to do just that.
Dennis worked in the coal mines of Eastern Kentucky for 22 years to provide for his family. After many years of dedication to his work, Dennis began to notice a change in his health. Upon visiting his doctor, he found out his exposure to the mine environment had damaged his lungs. Starting with pressure in his chest and low oxygen levels, Dennis then found himself in the ICU at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. After a 6 month stay in the ICU and three major procedures, Dennis was informed he would need a lung transplant. He spent about 17 days on the transplant list before receiving a transplant from his hero, the organ donor that saved his life. Dennis received his gift of life on January 21, 2019. Dennis credits his doctors and trusting in Lord for his success so far. He also is grateful for his wife of 31 years, Hazel, and her devotion to taking care of him. In his free time, Dennis enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time on the softball field as he formerly coached his daughter, Rachel. Dennis’s children are all registered organ donors, and he encourages everyone to do the same.
As I've gotten older, organ donation as meant different things to me. At 16, when I received my driver's license, I willingly marked that I would be an organ donor. I thought to myself, "I won't need my organs wherever we go after death, but someone else may." Fast forward my life to age 30, I'm still an organ donor and most individuals in my family are too. On September 3, 2017, organ donation became a real thing to me. My mother was taken to the hospital that morning because she was having trouble breathing. The doctors came and told me that they had been conducting CPR on my mom for over 45 minutes and since I was her eldest child, I made the decision to withdraw care. I was in nursing school at the time and I knew that with the length of the CPR that she was no longer with us. In the whirlwind of those moments after her passing, I was told my mother was a registered organ and tissue donor, and that a KODA representative was going to call me to ask some questions. The woman on the phone was extremely kind and knew that this [...]
Mary Anita was a genuinely caring and giving person and described as a “good soul” by her daughter, Sandra. Her daughter, Anna, explains that she “always had a kind word for anyone in distress or need.” She built her whole life around saving and healing lives with her nursing career. “It only made sense that she was an eye and tissue donor- she was always willing to help others” states her daughter, Anita. Mary Anita was a daughter, sister, wife, mother of three girls, grandmother of six (whom she adored greatly), a retired registered nurse, a painter, and a bird lover. Her youngest daughter, Sandra, did not share in her mother’s affection for birds, but promised to care for them after she was gone. One fateful afternoon, Sandra was looking out at them with great disdain, thinking to herself, “these nasty things…I don’t want to go out there and feed them” when suddenly, she was sprayed in the mouth with an automatic air freshener that was sitting on the counter. She knew then, that her momma was watching over her and telling her to go feed her birds! (And probably getting a good laugh since her middle daughter, Anna, explains [...]
I moved to Kentucky in 2005. I thought I had food poisoning but found out after a visit to an immediate care center that I had high blood pressure and the nurses asked if I was feeling okay. They ran tests and found out that something was wrong. They sent me to a hospital and I was admitted for three days and a lot of tests were run and an ultrasound was completed. I found out I was born with one kidney. It was a life changing moment. I moved here not knowing anyone but my fiancee at the time. It was a quite a scary time, with lots of uncertainty. I started dialysis. I did in center hemo-dialysis for 18 months. I asked people who I went to church with here in Louisville if they would be willing to be tested to be a donor. Honestly, it was challenging to take "yes" as an answer as I was nearly a stranger to them. We decided first to "handle" the situation by doing the dialysis treatments. After 18 months went by, and many medical issues and complications, we went back and talked with one particular person Kathy B, she was [...]
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 [...]