Document Sample
					      Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

One Of a Kind
      he air was cold in
      Pasadena, California,
      as the sun came up
                                 “Donate Life America
                               said they’d like to honor
                               Nick and me by having
                                                                “Nick was very quick-
                                                              witted and clever.” laughs
                                                              Jeremy. “He could come
                                                                                              The farm presented
                                                                                            plenty of things for an
                                                                                            active boy to do. “The
                                                                                                                           Those who drove from
                                                                                                                           Oklahoma City had
                                                                                                                           learned the heartbreaking
on New Year’s Day, 2011.       Nick’s face on one of the      back with a response          day before his accident,       news over the phone.
Thirty riders took their       floragraphs, and having me     amazingly fast, and it was    Nick found a newborn           Sometime later, the charge
places on the Donate Life      ride on the float” explains    usually funny.” Granddad      calf in the pasture while      nurse received a phone call
Float in anticipation of       Phil. “I was grateful and a    Phil shares, “Our grandson    patrolling on the four-        from LifeShare and gave
the 7:00 a.m. start of the     little overwhelmed by the      was one of a kind. When       wheeler,” remembers            the phone to Phil. “We
122nd Rose Parade. On          sentiment. So, I explained     he opened his mouth, you      Cheryll. “The same day, he     were still numbly walking
the float, 60 honorees who     the idea to my son and his     didn’t know whether you       also killed a chicken snake.   around when I got the call
in their deaths gave life      wife, Jeremy and Cheryll,      would hear something          It was a big day for him,      about Nick becoming a
to others through organ,       and they loved the idea.”      mind-blowingly profound,      he was in full ranch-man       tissue donor. While it was
eye and tissue donation                                       or something fun and silly.   mode.”                         obvious and appropriate,
were remembered with             Cheyenne Middle              Sometimes he would blur                                      it still sort of startled me
memorial “floragraph”          School in Edmond,                                                                           when I realized that,” Phil
portraits; and thousands       Oklahoma, conducted the                                                                     admits. He remembers
more donors nationwide         graduation ceremony on
                                                                         “Nick was very quick-                             asking Jeremy and Cheryll
were represented by roses      Friday morning before                      witted and clever.”                              about the possibility of
decorating the float.          Memorial Day weekend,                                                                       Nick being a donor, and
                               2010. Exhuberant eighth-                                                                    her reaction. “After a few
  Phil Van Stavern of          graders marched across         the line between truth          It was the afternoon         seconds, when she’d had a
Oklahoma City was              the gymnasium floor,           and tall tale with great      of Memorial Day when           chance to consider it, she
among the riders on the        received their diplomas and    hilarity.”                    Nick’s Pa-Pa Frank and         looked at me and said ‘of
float. When he was 38          posed for pictures. Like                                     Uncle Tommy found him          course’.”
years old, Phil received       so many of his classmates,       When he wasn’t spinning     in the pasture lying near
a kidney transplant, the       Nicholas “Nick” Van            wild yarns, shooting          the four-wheeler. They           The next morning
organ donated to him by        Stavern was very excited       movies or engaging in         were on their way into         Meghan’s grandmother,
his brother, Neil. Some 23     and couldn’t wait to call      other creative pursuits,      town with Nick when they       Vicki Van Stavern, flew to
years later, Phil is healthy   his dad, Jeremy, afterwards    Nick loved to spend           met the ambulance on the       Washington, D.C. to tell
and leads an active life       during the ride home. His      time at the farm with         road.                          her about Nick’s accident
which includes serving as      mom, Cheryll, recalls the      his grandparents, Frank                                      in person and bring her
interim chief operating        conversation being “classic    and Jeannie Cox. After          With most of them living     back home. They returned
officer of LifeShare of        Nick”.                         his graduation, he            in the area, Cheryll’s side    to Oklahoma later that
Oklahoma, the state’s                                         accompanied them to their     of the family was the first    night.
organ and tissue recovery        “At some point in the        place near McAlester for      to gather at the McAlester
organization.                  conversation,” Cheryll         a three week visit. He and    Regional Hospital. As the        Family, friends and
                               recalls, “Nick went into       his sister, Meghan, had       rest of the family began       classmates gathered at
  Honoring his brother’s       a different voice, like an     been spending time there      to arrive, grieving aunts      the Quail Springs Baptist
living donation and his        automated computer.            in the summers since they     and uncles, grandparents       Church on June 5th to say
own successful transplant      He said, ‘If you’d like to     were little, and Nick was     and cousins consoled each      goodbye and celebrate the
were sufficient, but not       continue this call, please     very much in his element      other in the emergency         life of Nick Van Stavern.
the only reasons for           deposit a quarter,’ and then   among the pastures, cows,     room. “The hospital was        Through the tears and
Phil’s invitation to ride      hung up the phone. I asked     riverfront - and all of the   very accommodating             heartache poured the love
the Donate Life Float.         him if he’d just hung up on    relatives on their mom’s      for our family,” shares        for Nick and his family.
The image depicted by          his dad who was working,       side of the family. “It was   Cheryll. “We were so           Nick’s own faith and
one of the 60 floragraphs      and he said, ‘Yeah, he’ll      so much fun, we would go      grateful for all the time we   love for his Lord, Jesus
and the framed photo in        call back.’ Jeremy did call    down there and not want       had with Nick, and that        Christ, gives his family the
his hands that morning         back and Nick said, ‘Yeah,     to come back,” shares         all of our family could be     confidence that they will
also compelled Phil to         I know, I can’t believe it,    Meghan. This year Meghan      there.”                        see him again. Even today,
participate. For among the     that was weird,’ and just      was traveling out of state                                   Nick’s Facebook page
60 honored donors was his      played if off like it had      with the youth choir from      It was determined that        receives posts from friends
beloved grandson, 13-year-     actually happened.”            her church.                   Nick passed away before
old Nick.                                                                                   he reached the hospital.           continued on pg 2

                                                                                                           PAGE 1
              Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

                                                                               One Of a Kind
                                                                               who express their love and      into decorating it,” shares
                                                                                                                                              and a ceremony using
                                                                               share fond memories.            Meghan, “but later I thought   colored sand to depict
                                                                                                               that was really cool.”         both the diversity of all the
                                                                                 On December 19th, Nick’s                                     individuals – and – the unity
                                                                               family gathered at the church     Cheryll, Jeremy, Meghan,     of their shared experience.
                                                                               again to put the finishing      Phil and his wife, Barbara,
                                                                               touches on his floragraph       arrived in Pasadena on           When Phil rode past their
                                                                               portrait to be used in the      December 28, 2010. They        section of the grandstands
                                                                               Rose Parade on New Year’s       enjoyed the activities         on New Year’s Day, no one
                                                                               Day. Nick’s sister Meghan,      planned for all the            cheered louder than the Van
                                                                               nicknamed ‘Nutmeg’ by           participating families by      Staverns. “We miss Nick
                                                                               their granddad, helped put      the Donate Life officials.     very much,” explains Phil.
                                                                               the eyebrows on the portrait,   Memorable events leading up    “He would have been excited
                                                                               which consisted of real         to the parade included the     beyond words to ride the
                                                                               nutmeg glued to the surface.    float judging, testimonials    float, and he was, in a sense,
                       Nick & his sister, Meghan                               “At the time I was more         from each of the families      riding with me.”

               To date, recipients of Nick’s tissue donation range in age from 12 to 72 years - including boys, girls, men and women from
               all across the country. The types of procedures vary from the repair of torn ligaments in knees to the fusion of worn vertebrae
                   in backs. Many lives have been improved and restored with Nick’s generous gift, and the number continues to grow.

          $1+You                                                                                  What Can
           Lives saved
    While the economy has had its ups and downs, one thing
  hasn’t changed: the value of the one dollar contribution you
  make every four years when you get your driver’s license or state
                                                                                                  I Donate?
  ID card.
     Oklahoma law requires that everyone who gets a driver’s
  license or state ID card be given the opportunity to register as
  an organ, eye and tissue donor, and that everyone be given an
  opportunity to donate a dollar to the Organ Donor Education
  Fund. The money is kept in a revolving fund administered by the
  Oklahoma State Health Department and it funds programs de-
  signed to educate Oklahomans about the critical need for organ,
  eye and tissue donors.
     That same law established the Governor’s Advisory Council
  for the Oklahoma Donor Education and Awareness Program
  (ODEAP), made up of a cross section of Oklahomans, including
  organ, eye and tissue recipients and donor family members.
  The Council helps to determine how the money is to be spent. In
  fact, the publication you are reading was funded by the vol-
  untary one-dollar contributions of thousands of Oklahomans. It
  is inserted into the Thanksgiving Day edition of 65 Oklahoma
    The law also provides other opportunities to make even larger
  contributions. Oklahomans may donate any amount to the fund
  when buying a license tag or making a vehicle title transaction.
    Since the program began in 2001, Oklahomans have contrib-
  uted more than $1,632,000 to help Oklahoma become one of
  the top programs in the nation in donor registrations.
          Every member of the ODEAP Advisory Council would like to
        thank the hundreds of thousands of generous and compassionate
             Oklahomans for making this lifesaving work possible.

                        2004                                                                                         2011
                                                                                                                                        It’s been more than 11 years
                                                                                                                                        since our daughter, Jayra, received her
                                                                                                                                        lifesaving liver transplant. In that time our
                                                                                                                                        family has grown with a son, Josiah, born
                                                                                                                                        when Jayra was four years old. She excels
                                                                                                                                        in school and has developed a tremendous
                                                                                                                                        love for music and the performing arts.
                                                                                                                                        Jayra is a gifted singer and dancer and has
                                                                                                                                        had lead roles in several productions. Now
                                                                                                                                        in the 8th grade, Jayra will likely pursue
                                                                                                                                        her dream of one day performing on Broad-
                                                                                                                                        way. Jayra’s health has been unbelievably
                                                                                                                                        great. She believes that God healed her and
                                                                                                                                        has taken care of her, and that she’s been
                                                                                                                                        given a second chance. We are beyond
                                                                                                                                        grateful to our donor family. We celebrate
                                                                                                                                        them and their child’s life every year when

                                                          GOOD for you.                                                                 we celebrate Jayra’s anniversary.
                                                                                                                                        Organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives.
                                                                                                                                        Please make your decision to donate life,
Jayra was diagnosed with                       your decision to donate life, and then tell                                              and then tell your family!
liver disease at 10 weeks. We almost           your family!                                      GOOD for you.                          Register to be an organ, eye and tissue
lost her several times in the 2½ years while   Register to be an organ, eye and tissue                                                  donor on your Oklahoma driver’s license
she was on the transplant waiting list. Now    donor on your Oklahoma driver’s license                                                  or state ID card, or register online
she’s well, thanks to the family of an 11      or state ID card, or register online at                                                  at If you
                                      If you don’t have                                             don’t have a license, or state ID card,
month old child who donated his liver to
                                               a license, or state ID card, and do not have                                             and do not have internet access, call
Jayra. What they did was the most selfless
                                               internet access, call 800-826-LIFE (5433),                                               800-826-LIFE (5433), and ask for a donor
thing I’ve ever known. We can’t say thank      and ask for a donor registration card.
you enough to our donor family. Organ, eye                                                                                              registration card.
and tissue donation saves lives. Please make
                                                       GOOD for life.                                                                          GOOD for life.
       PAGE 2                                  
            Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

 a Priceless
   gifT he television spot ran during an advertising break from the show I was watching. A local
        medical center was sharing another touching example of miracles performed at their hospital
        and the story brought me to tears.
   They were showing a donor mother listening to her son’s heart in the chest of the transplant
 recipient. The nineteen-year-old donor, Robert, had grown up in Stroud, Oklahoma. When they
 showed a picture of him wearing his Stroud jacket, I realized I recognized the young man. My first
 teaching job had been at Stroud Elementary. I was Robert’s first grade teacher.
   It’s been a few years since that story first aired, but I still tear up when I remember it and think
 about the loss of Robert and of his gift as an organ donor. His gift was a priceless second chance at life
 for which the transplant recipients will be forever grateful. I know…I am a transplant recipient.
   Almost twelve years ago, I received a double organ transplant. It brought me back to good health
 and gave me hope for a future. The following anonymous letters were exchanged between my donor’s
 family and me:

               To My Donor’s Family:                                                                 To my son’s recipient:

                Last January, the thoughtful and caring decision you                                   To the wonderful person who lives on because of the gift
               made to donate organs changed my life. I am the one who                               of transplants. You are in my every thought as each day
               was blessed to receive both a kidney and pancreas.                                    goes by. I feel that my son still lives on in a very special
                                                                                                     way. He would be so proud to help someone get well, as
                 It is so hard for me to put into words how grateful I                               we are so proud of him for being able to help you. He was
               feel. I have sat down many times to write to you and                                  a 13-year-old young man who loved everything about
               each time have been unable to finish because of the tears
               I cry over the immensity of your gift.                                                life. He played baseball since the age of five, and his last
                                                                                                     season he finished up with six over-the-fence home runs,
                 It has been a long time since I have felt this good. I was                          along with many trophies. He was the quarterback for his
               a second grade teacher, but eventually had to give that                               seventh grade football team, and did very well for his
               up as my health deteriorated. Because of the transplants,                             first year. He was a natural athlete, never had to work
               I am off kidney dialysis and am no longer a diabetic.                                 very hard to accomplish his goals. He enjoyed every day to
               With my renewed energy, I hope to begin a new career.                                 the fullest and always had a huge smile on his precious
                                                                                                     little face. I could go on and on about him, he was the
                I think of you all the time and pray that God will                                   most precious person in my life. You are very lucky to
               provide the comfort and strength you need each day.                                   carry him with you. I don’t know how you would feel
                                                                                                     about meeting his family someday, but we would be very
               Thank you so much.                                                                    interested in meeting you. I feel to get to know you would
                                                                                                     help me to stay closer to my son.

                                                                                                     God Bless You

   We did meet when it was arranged for the                        My hope is that with each opportunity I have              of 2002, my friend died, still waiting on a liver
 donor family to come to Oklahoma City. On                       to share my story, I am able to raise awareness             transplant.
 the day of the family’s arrival, I walked into                  of the critical need for organ donation. I received           More than 112,200 Americans are waiting on
 the lobby of the hotel and into the arms of total               the organs I needed, but not everyone’s story is            life-saving organ transplants. Each day, eighteen
 strangers who had given me another chance                       the same.                                                   people die because of a lack of available organs.
 at life at the very time they had suffered their                  A friend and I first met at church years ago,               If you have not already done so, would you
 greatest loss. Their only son had been tragically               long before either of us knew we would need a               please consider registering as an organ, eye and
 killed in an accident. When his family and I met,               transplant. She and I sang in the church choir              tissue donor? Your decision to donate could save
 we discovered an instant bond with each other                   together, played in the hand bell choir and ended           or improve the lives of numerous people with the
 and have developed a very special relationship.                 up planning weddings one month apart. In                    most priceless gift you could give to another…the
                                                                 January of 2000, I received my transplant. In July          Gift of Life.

M e s s a g e                                                                 f r O M

Mary fallin
I have served as the honorary chairperson of Decision            states in which their people have been as generous and
Week for 16 years now and my commitment to the cause             compassionate.
of organ, eye and tissue donation grows every year. Over         During this holiday season, I’m asking each of you
the last three decades, the need has grown to more than          to commit to helping your fellow Americans and
112,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list.       Oklahomans by registering to be a donor on your driver’s
More than 900 of those currently waiting are our fellow          license or state ID card, or by signing up online at
Oklahomans. The need for cornea and tissue transplants 
has also become more pressing. The demand continues to
                                                                 I’m proud to say that in times of need, Oklahomans always
grow at a much faster rate than the rate of organ, eye and
tissue donation. If there is a bright light to be seen in this
worsening health crisis, it is that Oklahomans have opened
their hearts, as they always do, to try to alleviate the pain
of families waiting for a second chance for their loved
ones, by registering to be organ, eye and tissue donors.
Almost 1.8 million Oklahomans have added their names             Mary Fallin, Governor
to the LifeShare Donor Registry. There are few other             Honorary Chair, Decision Week 2011

                                                                                                                                 PAGE 3
             Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

Counting Her
      or Nita French,        the diabetes began to         For a while Nita’s
      the last 10 years      present some adverse        health improved, but by
      have been among        effects. First, a problem   September 1999 she was
the best of her life.        with her vision             placed on the transplant
She’s been able to enjoy     would require a laser       list for a kidney/
her role as mother to        procedure. Following        pancreas transplant.
her three beautiful          the eye surgery, Nita       Dialysis began again,
daughters and wife to        was delighted to learn      lasting 3 ½ hours a day
her loving husband. She      that she was pregnant,      for three days a week.
was able to complete         but the doctor also had     Months stretched into
her teaching degree and      some bad news. Her          years as Nita struggled
work as a 6th grade          kidney function was         to maintain, caring for
English teacher. Nita        beginning to decline.       herself and her baby.
has laughed, loved                                       Two times the phone
and lived. But those           “I had a difficult        rang with news of a
wonderful years would        time keeping my blood       possible transplant,            Nita and Dennie French, with daughters, Channing, Grace and Chayse
not have been possible       sugars in check,” Nita      and both times the
without the selfless gift    admits. “I was trying       organs turned out           I went home from the           explained that he’d been   and Channing; and
of a complete stranger.      so hard to keep them        to be unsuitable for        hospital, I thought            reading about organ and    recently learned they are
                             from getting high,          transplant. Nita and her    constantly about the           tissue donation, and he    expecting again.
  Nita grew up in Jet,       that I was getting lows     family were devastated.     family and my donor,”          wanted them to know
Oklahoma, not far from       all the time.” She was                                  Nita recalls. “I knew          that was something he’d      “Sometimes, because
Enid. She was in the                                                                 I had to write them a          like to do if anything     Nita is so healthy, I
seventh grade when she                                                               letter. I filled a trash can   ever happened to him.      forget how blessed I
began to notice some                                                                 with wadded up papers          Because she remembered     am,” shares Dennie.
unusual changes. “I
                                    “Somebody had to watch                           as I tried to write that       those instructions, she    “She is doing so well,
dropped a lot of weight               me 24 hours a day.”                            letter and finally gave up     was able to consent to     it’s hard to believe that
pretty fast, and they just                                                           on perfection, settling        the donation that saved    10 years ago she had an
thought I was slimming                                                               instead for words              Nita’s life, and the       organ transplant and
down and getting             hospitalized half a           When the phone rang       pouring straight out of        lives of Patrick’s other   13 years ago she almost
taller,” she remembers.      dozen times during the      again on October 11,        my heart.”                     recipients.                died giving birth to our
“I was thirsty all the       first three months of       2001, Nita didn’t get                                                                 daughter. I thank God
time, I didn’t have any      pregnancy and ended         too excited. But her          Before long, Nita’s            “I am very grateful      every day, when I kiss
energy and I just felt       up having to move           life changed that day       heartfelt letter found         that Patrick had such      our girls goodnight,
really sick.” A trip to      back home with her          when she received the       its way to her grieving        a giving heart and         that there was a man
the doctor revealed that     parents. Nita explains,     long-awaited transplant.    donor family. Not only         thought about that         who was so selfless and
Nita had diabetes.           “Somebody had to            “When the nurses rolled     did her words bring            ahead of time. He kept     giving that he gave his
                             watch me 24 hours a         me out of the operating     comfort in their time of       his parents from having    organs and saved my
  But the disease didn’t     day.”                       room, my mother saw         sadness, but provided          to make that difficult     wife’s life.”
slow Nita down. She                                      me and burst into tears,”   motivation to arrange          decision, and that was
continued to participate       When Nita developed       Nita shares. “She said      a meeting. In 2002             monumental for me,”          Nita shares Dennie’s
in school activities and     pneumonia and started       it was the first time       Nita met the family of         shares Nita.               sentiment. “Every day
managed the diabetes         dialysis for her failing    in many years that I        Patrick, her 27-year-old                                  that I get to raise my
at the same time. “I         kidneys, the doctor         actually had color in my    donor. Nita remembers            In the time that has     children, to love my
learned how to check         performed an emergency      cheeks.” In one surgery     the words of his mother,       passed since Nita’s        husband, to serve in my
my own blood,” she           C-section and delivered     Nita’s diabetes was         “She said she cried every      transplant, many           church, to live in my
explains, adding, “and I     the baby three months       cured and her kidney        single day until she met       things have happened.      community is a tribute
had to take shots twice      early. Her daughter         function was restored.      me.”                           Nita and her husband,      to my donor, his parents
a day.” By the time she      weighed 18 ounces and                                                                  Dennie, have had two       and their family.
reached high school,         was 12 inches long,           As Nita and her family      Patrick’s mother             more children, Chayse
Nita was a cheerleader       about the size of a         rejoiced in her renewed     also told Nita about a
and played volleyball.       Barbie doll. Thankfully,    health, she realized        conversation she and his
                             a healthy baby Grace        that another family was     father had with him at                if you would like to subscribe to the
 It was after Nita           would go home three         mourning the loss of        the kitchen table about            e-newsletter from Lifeshare of oklahoma,
got out of college that      months later.               their loved one. “When      5 years before. Patrick               e-mail

                                                         The gift of sight
                                                         transplant and to see someone’s vision                     1-800-826-LIFE (5433). The LifeShare Donor
                                                         restored is truly a life changing experience.              Registry makes your wish to be a donor
                                                                                                                    available 24 hours a day and 7 days a
                                                            In 2009, I was appointed to serve on the
                                                                                                                    week. Action is needed for more than 900
                                                         Governor’s Oklahoma Donor Education and
                                                                                                                    Oklahomans currently listed for organs; over
                                                         Awareness Program Council, whose primary
                                                                                                                    112,000 people on the national waiting list
                                                         goal is to educate people about organ, eye
                                                                                                                    and tens of thousands more who need tissue
  Because of the eye missions and                        and tissue donation. As chairman of the
                                                                                                                    and cornea transplants.
  work with Lions internationaL in                       Council this year we have been supporting

  which I have been involved, twelve years               nursing school educational programs,

  ago I was appointed to the Oklahoma Lions              museum exhibits and public education.

  Eye Bank board of directors. This work, as                Please choose to be a donor on the                      Russal B. Brawley
  a board member, has been very rewarding                LifeShare registry when you get (or renew)                 Chairman
  and enjoyable. To be there after a cornea              your driver’s license or state ID card; join               Oklahoma Donor Education
                                                         online at or call                and Awareness Program

       PAGE 4                             
             Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

          ndrea stood beside
          Nathan’s hospital
          bed. She was wearing
                                       know about you and will
                                        know without a doubt
                                       that her daddy loved her
                                                                         His first fight was scheduled
                                                                         for that Friday night.
                                                                                                                            Sweethearts – Nathan and Andrea
his baseball shirt and sweats         before she was ever born.”             “I promise our daughter
and holding a bouquet of                                                      will grow up knowing          back there, but he called           end, the decision to honor
flowers from the gift shop. As        They picked out the name,               Jesus loves her just like     me and he seemed fine. He           Nathan’s final wish was
the youth pastor read through       Avyn Leigh, with the same                  he loved her daddy.”         never let on that anything          unanimous.
a list of promises, Andrea          middle name as Andrea -                                                 was wrong. I really had no
repeated them, and she spoke        Leigh. Nathan was so excited           It was difficult for Nathan’s    idea.” Nathan won his second         “I promise that I will teach
to Nathan from her heart.           when he found out he was             family to watch him fight.         fight. Although he showed               her (our daughter) the
                                    going to be a father. “We            While Andrea sat with his          some signs of fatigue during          knowledge of the Savior
    “I promise to love you          bought speakers that you             mom, Susie Maeder, and             the third fight, he had done         who has you in His hands.
       as long as I live.”          can put to your belly, and           sister, Amanda Warrior, she        well and waited for the                 I love you, Nathan.”
                                    he read to her every night,”         held her hands over her eyes.      announcement that he had
  Nathan Johnson was a star         says Andrea. “Nathan read            Her Nathan was sweet and           won. “Nathan went back                Avyn Nateleigh
baseball player from Latta          Goodnight Moon to her, and           gentle, and she’d never even       to his corner and sat down.         (pronounced like Natalie)
High School. Almost six feet        he would give her kisses. You        seen him get angry. “I had my      They were talking to him            Johnson was born May 4,
tall, he had a sweet curveball      could feel her kicking and           eyes closed until I saw what       when he just slumped over,”         2010. Now more than a year
and a wicked slider that            moving when he talked to             he could do. Then I kind of        explains Andrea. “I went to         old, Andrea calls her ‘my
earned him the nickname,            her like that, she loved her         relaxed a little bit,” Andrea      the ring immediately and I          rock’. “She has her daddy’s
“Nasty Nate”. He was the            daddy.”                              remembers. “After he won the       saw his eyes. His pupils were       side smirk,” she laughs. “She’s
winning pitcher in the Class                                             fight he came over and kissed      so dilated I knew it wasn’t         the first grandchild for my
2A State Championship in              For Valentine’s Day 2010,                                             good.”                              parents,” Andrea explains,
2005. Nathan also pitched for       Nathan took Andrea on a                                                                                     “and his parents feel like she’s
Butler Community College            special date to Pete’s Place in             “Earth has                    Nathan was taken to the           part of Nathan. So that’s a
in Kansas and Southeastern          Krebs, Oklahoma. She gave                                               OU Medical Center. There            piece of him that they have
Oklahoma State University in        him a new Bible with his                     no sorrow                  was severe trauma to his brain      and they cherish her 100%.”
Durant.                             name inscribed on the cover,
                                    and he gave her a necklace
                                                                               that Heaven                  and surgery was scheduled
                                                                                                            that night to try to relieve          Nathan’s family has written
  Andrea McKerley was               with Avyn’s birthstone.                    cannot heal.”                the pressure. “Probably the         the following tribute to honor
with a girlfriend when she                                                                                  most hope we had was when           his memory and graciously
met Nathan at a little league         Not long after that, Nathan                                           they did surgery that night…        shares it with us:
baseball game. No longer a          revealed to his family that          my belly. Then he kissed me,       but still it didn’t look very
player himself, Nathan was          he would be competing in             and he talked to everyone. He      good,” says Andrea. It was
working a summer job as an          the “Original Toughman               was as happy as could be.”         difficult for Nathan’s parents      Nathan was a wonderful
umpire. Andrea explains, “We        Contest” held at the                 Nathan’s father, James, and        to see their son, lying still       young man with an amazing
were both talking to other          Oklahoma City Farmers                step-mom, Cheryl, listened         in the hospital bed. His            smile. He was a mentor and
people, but within a couple         Public Market. Nathan                on the cell phone as Amanda        mother, Susie, remembers,           a role model for many who
of days we broke it off and         longed for the challenge and         gave them up-to-the-minute         “It was very grim…it would          knew him. His desire was
started dating. He was easy         the competition he missed            details.                           have been nothing short of          to be the best he could be at
to talk to, and baseball was a      since his baseball days. He                                             a miracle for him to have
                                                                                                                                                whatever he put his hands
common interest.”                   was in the best physical               Nathan didn’t fight again        survived.” Dad, James,
                                                                                                                                                to. Nathan never missed the
                                    condition of his life, and with      until the next day. Andrea         recalls, “I was just numb.
   “I promise our daughter          a baby on the way the prize          shares, “After the second          All I wanted to do was pick
                                                                                                                                                opportunity to share Christ
   will know you and will           money would come in handy.           fight, they didn’t allow us        him up and cradle him in my         with those he knew or those
                                                                                                            arms…and just hold him.”            he’d just met.
                                                                                                                                                Nathan had many loves in his
                                                                                                              Although the doctors had          life: a love for Christ, family,
                                                                                                            done everything they could,         friends, baseball, fishing and
                                                                                                            the damage to his brain was         Christian music. Nathan was
                                                                                                            extensive and Nathan could          looking forward to beginning
                                                                                                            not be saved. It was difficult
                                                                                                                                                a new role in life as a husband
                                                                                                            to discuss organ donation,
                                                                                                                                                to his fianceé and a daddy
                                                                                                            even though Nathan had
                                                                                                                                                to his unborn daughter. His
                                                                                                            expressed this wish on his
                                                                                                            driver’s license. “You really       untimely death left him, in a
                                                                                                            can’t wrap your mind around         way, short of his dreams. His
                                                                                                            the fact that your child is         fianceé took his last name,
                                                                                                            gone,” says Susie. “We wanted       and his daughter was born
                                                                                                            to honor Nathan with what           shortly after his passing.
                                                                                                            he wanted,” shares James.           Every day we walk through
                                                                                                            “The people at LifeShare were       the pain but we know,
                                                                                                            great,” Susie shares, adding,
                                                                                                                                                “Earth has no sorrow that
                                                                                                            “They took such good care
                                                                                                                                                Heaven cannot heal.”
                                                                                                            of him even after he died…To
                                                                                                            have that kind of compassion
                                                                                                            was really important.” In the
                   Avyn Nateleigh takes the mound where her daddy, Nathan
                         Johnson, pitched for Southeastern University

  Q. if emergency room doctors know you’re an organ donor, will they work                   Q. does certain history of medical illness mean your organs or tissues are
     as hard to save you?                                                                      unfit for donation?
  a. if you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority       a. at the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will review your
     is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain                   medical and social history to determine whether you will be a candidate for
     death has been declared by a physician. Oklahoma has adopted legislation
                                                                                               donation. each potential donor is evaluated on a case by case basis. With
     allowing individuals to legally designate their wish to be a donor should
                                                                                               recent advances in transplantation, more people have the opportunity to
     brain death occur.
                                                                                               become donors.
  Q. what does the term brain death mean?
  a. Brain death is the total and irreversible loss of brain function, including the        Q. what is organ donation after cardiac death (odcd)?
     brain stem. Brain death means the person is dead. Types of injuries that can           a. Organ donation after cardiac death is donation by a patient who is
     lead to brain death are gunshot wound to the head, head trauma (motor                     deceased by means of cardiac arrest, rather than being determined to be
     vehicle accident or fall, stroke, tumors in head), intracranial bleed (aneurysm           brain dead.
     or trauma to the head) and anoxic brain injuries (any injury that would not
                                                                                               an OdCd donor is a patient who is on a ventilator and has minimal brain
     allow your brain oxygen) such as drowning. Most organ donors are those
     who have suffered brain death.                                                            function, is not expected to survive, and the family wants to discontinue
                                                                                               mechanical support. The family, physicians and organ recovery staff
  Q. where are you able to sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor?                       determine the time and place of ventilator withdrawal. This usually occurs in
  a. You can sign up several places to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. When                 an operating room so that the organ recovery process can take place soon
     you go to a tag agent or the department of Public safety (dPs) to get your                after cardiac death is declared.
     driver’s license or state id card, you have the option to sign up. The question will
     appear on the electronic signature pad before you receive your license or state           OdCd recovery will only occur after the family has provided written consent
     id card. You also have the option to sign up online at          for organ donation. These donors are also declared dead by a medical
     or can call 800-826-Life for a donor registration card to be mailed to you.               professional not affiliated with the organ recovery.

                                                                                                                             PAGE 5
             Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

The PerfecT MaTch                                                                                      released to go home on March It was a touching moment.
                                                                                                       20th.                           We had many nurses gathered
                                                                                                                                       outside the room to watch.”
                                                                                                         Days and weeks stretched
                                                                                                       into months as Ellie              With about 20% of Natalie’s
                                                                                                       struggled. It was clear that    liver now functioning in
                                                                                                       she was losing muscle mass      Ellie’s tiny body, the baby
                                                                                                       and fat from her little body.   was turning pink, smiling
                                                                                                       Reflux and ascites, a build-up and even taking a bottle
                                                                                                       of fluid in her abdomen, were – all within days of the
                                                                                                       just two of the challenges that transplant. Natalie’s own
                                                                                                       the baby suffered through.      recovery was much slower,
                                                                                                       Ellie averaged two to three     though. The pain and nausea
                                                                                                       trips a week to Children’s      following surgery had been
                                                                                                       Hospital for check-ups and      considerable. As the doctors
                                                                                                       lab tests. Marcus blogged,      adjusted her medications and
                                                                                                      “She’s on a ton of medications. she received physical therapy,
                                                                                                       She sleeps on and off a lot     Natalie slowly began to
                                                                                                       (except at night), and when     regain her strength.
                                                                                                       she is awake she fusses and
                                                                                                       has to be held. This is very      Until the doctors gave
                                                                                                       tiresome, and honestly          permission to start
                                                                                                       everyone is drained.”           disconnecting the monitoring
                                                                                                                                       machines and medication
                                                                                                         Ellie was in the hospital for lines, Ellie’s main source of
                             Natalie and Ellie reunited after surgery                                  five days at the end of April.  comfort came from wrapping
                                                                                                       Her white blood count was       her tiny hand around her

          ow is my baby?”         have his and Natalie’s parents at three months, a problem            high, and she was running       daddy’s finger. Marcus stayed
          asked a still           with them. He thought of         with her liver was discovered       a fever. Doctors gave her       with her in the room, even
          groggy Natalie          their other three children      – Biliary Atresia. This is a         IV antibiotics, vitamins        sleeping in ‘the big green
Wehmuller as she woke up          staying with family back         rare condition in which the         and a stronger diuretic to      chair’ for the first week. A
in the recovery room. “She’s      home in Oklahoma. Marcus         bile ducts between the liver        help drain fluid from her       major event was a surprise
doing great,” replied the         explains, “The biggest thing     and the gall bladder are            tummy. While Ellie made         visit to Natalie’s room when
surgeon. Grateful for his         was… I just wouldn’t let my      absent, resulting in jaundice,      slight improvement during
calm reassurance, the young       mind wander to anything          cirrhosis and eventual failure      these days, her overall level
mother of four closed her         bad.”                            of the liver. After several tests, of health had declined to the
eyes and slipped back into                                         including exploratory surgery point where the decision was
the fog.                            Ellanie “Ellie” Renae was      and discussions with Ellie’s        made to return to Omaha for
                                                                   team of doctors at Children’s re-evaluation.
                                                                   Hospital in Oklahoma City,
                                                                   it was determined that a              Natalie, Marcus and Ellie
                                                                   liver transplant would be           arrived at the transplant
                                                                   necessary. The hospital             center the day after Mother’s
                                                                   chosen for transplant was in        Day. A battery of tests was
                                                                   Omaha, Nebraska.                    ordered for Natalie as doctors
                                                                                                       turned to the option of last
                                                                     Following Ellie’s initial         resort. That discussion had
                                                                   diagnosis on March 10,              been very emotional as
                                                                   2009, she arrived in Omaha          Natalie remembers, “We did
                                                                   on March 16th and her               know that living donation
                                                                   evaluation began the next           was a possibility from the
                                                                   day. The Pediatric End-Stage        beginning.” Tests came               The Wehmuller family
                                                                   Liver Disease (PELD) scale          back and doctors discovered
                                                                   is a rating system used to          Natalie was a perfect match.    special arrangements were
                                                                   describe the severity of a          They performed the surgery a made to take Ellie to see her
                                                                   patient’s condition and the         few days later.                 mommy.
                                                                   need for transplant. Ellie’s
                                                                   initial PELD score was 34             Natalie was taken by            Ellie and Natalie eventually
                                                                   of a possible 40. She was           wheelchair from the Intensive healed from their transplant
                                                                   put on the waiting list for         Care Unit to her regular        surgery. They wear matching
                                                                   transplant on March 18th.           hospital room. Along the way scars and share a bond that
                  Ellie 3 months after transplant                  Ellie’s transplant coordinator she made a brief stop in the         few mothers and daughters
                                                                   explained the process to            Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. will ever know. On May
  Marcus Wehmuller kept           born on November 19, 2008.       Marcus and Natalie - and            For the first time since their  22, 2011, the Wehmuller
himself busy throughout the       Other than being slightly                                                                            family celebrated the 2-year
day, posting on his computer      jaundiced, she was happy                                                                             anniversary of the transplant
pictures and updates for          and healthy and gave no
friends and family members        indication that anything was
                                                                    “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Day that lasted from Mother’s  through Father’s
who weren’t able to be with       wrong. The other children,             but the easiest decision of my life.”                         Day in 2009. Natalie still
them at the Lied Transplant       Brenden - 5, Alie - 3 and                                                                            becomes emotional when she
Center in Omaha, Nebraska.        Connor - 1 welcomed their                                                                            remembers the three months
With his wife and daughter        baby sister home.                what arrangements had to be         transplant surgery, mother      of their lives that felt like
both in surgery it helped                                          in place even before a suitable and daughter were finally           five years, and she will tell
to focus his attention away         Ellie grew, passed her         liver donor was found. After        reunited. Marcus remembers, you, “It was the hardest thing
from the procedure and stay       developmental milestones and several days of intensive              “They took Ellie out of her      I’ve ever done, but the easiest
positive. It was a comfort to     appeared to be perfect. But      testing Ellie was finally           bed and let Natalie hold her.   decision of my life.”

                                  To see and hear Natalie tell “Ellie’s Story”, visit the Donate Life Oklahoma Facebook Fan page
                                         ( and click the link to her video.

  Q. when do you become too old to be a
                                                                                 DiD you know that…
  a. People of all ages and medical histories             •	 More	than	112,200	Americans	are	waiting	for	lifesaving	organ	transplants;	more	than	900	of	them	are	
                                                             Oklahomans	and	tens	of	thousands	more	are	in	need	of	corneas	and	other	tissue
     will be considered as potential donors. Your
     medical condition at the time of death will          •	 Almost	7166	Americans	died	waiting	for	lifesaving	organ	transplants	in	2010;	69	of	them	were	
     determine which organs and tissue can be                Oklahomans
     donated.                                             •	 More	than	28,664	Americans	received	a	transplant	in	2010;	246	of	them	were	Oklahomans
                                                          •	 There	were	7943	deceased	donors	in	America	in	2010;	81	of	them	were	Oklahomans
  Q. does organ donation disfigure the body or
     change the way it looks in the casket?               •	 There	were	6566	living	donors	in	America	in	2010;	53	of	them	were	Oklahomans
  a. donation does not change the appearance              •	 Every	11	minutes	another	name	is	added	to	the	national	organ	transplant	waiting	list
     of the body for the funeral service.                 •	 Every	day,	18	Americans	die	waiting	for	an	organ	transplant

  Q. do some religions prohibit donation?                 •	 More	than	42,642	sight-restoring	cornea	transplants	were	performed	in	the	Unite	States;	of	them	162	
                                                             were	Oklahoma	corneas
  a. all major organized religions approve of
     organ and tissue donation and consider it an         •	 More	than	1.5	million	tissue	transplants	were	performed	in	the	United	States	in	2010
     act of charity.                                       •	 More	than	1.78	million	Oklahomans	are	registered	organ,	eye	and	tissue	donors

       PAGE 6                             
        Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

second sight
for susan
 Wrinkled cellophane –                   when they burst it is extremely      Susan noticed the
 that’s what Susan Chavez said           painful.                           difference in her vision right
 her vision was like after her first        Dr. Muenzler told Susan         away. When her damaged
 cataract surgery in 1999. The           that she would need a corneal      cornea was removed, her
 vision was clear but ‘wrinkled’.        transplant, and she would          vision turned black and

                                         be placed on the waiting list      disappeared completely.
   Susan’s ophthalmologist did
                                                                            But when the new cornea                with the patch, people really got
 a laser procedure to clear her          immediately. While she waited,
                                                                            was sewn into place, her sight         out of my way.”
 vision more, but it didn’t help.        Susan learned that her insurance
                                         would not cover the cost of the    returned – crystal clear. As she          Susan was listed for her
 Her eye was very painful and
                                         cornea itself, so the Oklahoma     healed from the procedure and          second transplant in August
 Susan said, “It felt like razors
                                         Lions Eye Bank generously          her pain went away, Susan’s            2011 and her procedure was
 cutting my eyes.” Her doctor sent
                                         donated the cornea for her         quality of life began to return.       performed on September 15th.
 her to see Stanley Muenzler, an
 Oklahoma City corneal specialist        surgery.                             As a medical social worker,          “I received the same wonderful
 and Medical Director for the                                               Susan has witnessed many               care for my second procedure.
                                                                            families that have lost a loved        Dr. Muenzler even played my
                                                                            one. She knows that the decision       favorite jazz station on the radio
                                                                            to donate can be very difficult.       during the surgery.” When
                                                                            “My first stop when I arrived at       she returned the following day
                                                                            the hospital for my transplant         for her post-op visit with Dr.
                                                                            was the chapel, to pray for the        Muenzler, she was doing well.
                                                                            family of my donor. All I know is
                                                                                                                      Susan looks forward to
                                                                            that he was a 49-year-old man
                                                                                                                   returning to her job in Hospice
                                                                            from Oklahoma.” She has written
                                                                                                                   as soon as possible. Her
                                                                            to his family but has not heard
                                                                            back. She understands that this        husband, Mike, a Theology

                                                                            is a personal decision. Susan          teacher at Bishop McGuiness
                                                                            explains, “You learn to receive        Catholic High School, has been
                                                                            and accept a gift that is freely       taking good care of her. “He’s a
                                                                            given.”                                good nurse,” laughs Susan, “I’ve
                                                                                                                   trained him well.”
                                                                              In 2010, Susan had cataract
                  Susan’s first post-op visit with Dr. Muenzler
                                                                            surgery on her other eye. Her             Now that Dr. Muenzler has
                                                                            vision got better but began to         replaced her diseased corneas,
 Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank. Dr.               The transplant was done at
                                         St. Anthony Hospital as an         get ‘foggy’ a short time later.        Susan looks forward to reading,
 Muenzler diagnosed her with
                                         outpatient procedure in early      She returned to Dr. Muenzler           gardening and caring for
 Fuchs Dystrophy.
                                         2000. Susan remembers being        who confirmed that the Fuchs           their four rescue dogs. She
   Fuchs Dystrophy is a condition                                           Dystrophy was affecting this eye       is extremely grateful to both
                                         awake for the procedure and
 in which the cornea loses the                                              as well.
                                         being very comfortable, with no                                           of her donor families and the
 cells that pump fluids out of it.
                                         pain. She recalls, “Dr. Muenzler     While waiting on her second          gift they so freely gave, and
 This causes the cornea to swell
                                         was very soothing and calming      transplant, Susan had to wear a        to the Oklahoma Lions Eye
 and distorts the vision. The
                                         throughout the transplant. He      patch over that eye. She says, “I      Bank for helping to restore her
 swelling can produce blisters on
                                         made me feel very much at ease     could still drive, but seeing me       sight and the sight of so many
 the surface of the cornea, and
                                         and well taken care of.”                                                  Oklahomans.

    How do I regisTer                                                                           Q. does my family have to pay for organ donation?
                                                                                                a. no. Once a physician pronounces you brain dead

     TO Be a donor?
                                                                                                   and appropriate medical professionals review your
                                                                                                   case for organ donation, Lifeshare Transplant donor
                                                                                                   services of Oklahoma pays for all procedures, tests or
              on YoUr LICEnSE: When you go to your tag agency, or                                  evaluations needed for donation. funeral costs remain
                Department of Public Safety office to get, or to renew, your driver’s              the responsibility of the family.
                license or state ID card, you will be asked to answer a couple of               Q. do celebrities and people with money get
                questions and sign your name on an electronic signature pad. The                   transplanted more quickly than those without?
                first question on the pad will be “Would you like to be an organ                a. The placement of organs is done from a national list
                and tissue donor?” If your answer is yes, you will automatically be                starting with our state. The order in which the list is kept
                added to the LifeShare Donor Registry. To remain on the registry,                  is based upon severity of the recipients illness, time
                you will need to answer yes each time you renew your license.                      spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical
              onLInE: Go to and click on “Sign Up
                                                                                                Q. if i sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor
                Now”. It takes about three minutes to fill out the form. Within a
                                                                                                   at a tag agent or the department of Public safety
                few days, you will receive a signature card in the mail. Sign it and
                                                                                                   (dPs), do i also need to sign up online?
                send it back, at no cost to you, and your information and signa-                a. if you indicate your wish to be an organ, eye and tissue
                ture will be added to the LifeShare Donor Registry.                                donor at a tag agent or dPs when you get your license
                                                                                                   or state id card, you will be added to the registry
              on THE PHonE: If you don’t have a computer with Internet access,                     automatically. if, for some reason, you do not choose to
                you can call 1-800-826-LIFE (5433) and request that a donor                        designate yourself as an organ, eye and tissue donor
                registration card be mailed to you. Fill the card out completely, sign             when you get your license or state id card, you may go
                it and return it in the postage paid envelope we provide, and your                 online and register at any time at www.lifeshareregistry.
                information and signature will be added to the LifeShare                           org. We also urge you to talk with you family about
                 Donor Registry.                                                                   your decision to become a donor.

                                                                                                              PAGE 7
    Be an Organ, eye and Tissue dOnOr

          Janelle Hodges    Connie Howard                                                         Cheree Hale
                                                     Herbert Prince             Clint Mayhew

                           EvEry yEar in OklahOma, thousands of ordinary people
                           of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds make a decision
          Bobby Hutto      that transforms them from ordinary people to extraordinary
                           people. They say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation. And          Kyle Massey
                           each year, hundreds of those people, regrettably, die, leaving
                           grieving families to deal with an inexpressible sense of loss. But,
                           out of the darkness of those moments, miracles happen. Life is
                           given. Health and sight are restored. The faces you see on this
                           page are just a handful of those miracle-makers. On behalf of the
                           hundreds of Oklahoma organ, eye and tissue recipients each year,
                           we say thank you to all of the wonderful Oklahoma donors and
          Brooke Daily     their families who shared life.                                           Brian

         Lane Brassfield                                Rolan Decker                             Myra Woodfork
                             Ruth Brehm                                            Booker

            Joe Shields      David Strode               Leslie Fipps           Debra Miller      Gregory Norris

           Jane Spring      Raymond
                            McMahon                Jason Wright              Alisha Girdner
                                                                                                 Matt Carson

                             Alyssa Porter           Rozell Miles              John Granchie
         Shamika Woody                                                                           Dalton Burns

            Ryan Cruz         Toni Ruff               Elvis Phillips        Patricia DeGroot      David Neal

PAGE 8               

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