Voices of Donation

Donated tissue can dramatically improve the quality of life for recipients and even save lives. This is thanks to the generous gift of life given by thousands of donors each year. We hope that these stories of how tissue donation and transplantation have touched the lives of others will inspire you.

James Cantwell

James Cantwell

Husband. Soulmate. Best friend. These are titles Terrie Cantwell gave to her husband, James Cantwell, who passed away at the age of 61 due to an enlarged heart that was three times its normal size. Terrie found James in their backyard, and she immediately used CPR to try and revive her husband. James worked as a carrier for the postal Read more
Kathleen Southard

Kathleen Southard

Kathleen Southard was a very caring educator, always wanting to help others in need with a deep love for education. She passed away from a sudden heart attack at the age of 60. “Kathleen worked in education all her life,” said Larry Southard, Kathleen’s husband. After she passed away, an ICU nurse asked if they had considered tissue donation before. Read more
Rebecca Perry

Rebecca Perry

Rebecca Leeann Perry, a 22-year-old senior nursing student at the University of North Florida, was struck by a car when crossing the eastbound lane on her way to work early one morning. “She was a special, caring person,” said Melissa Perry, Rebecca’s mother. “She was also a talented artist with a giving spirit.” At such a young age, Rebecca was Read more
Robert Toledo

Robert Toledo

Godzilla. Dr. Who. Comic Books. These were a few of Robert (Rob) Toledo II’s favorite things. Toledo, raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., passed away at the age of 33 from an interventricular bleed. Just like every Tuesday evening, Robert Toledo went into his son’s bedroom to tell him the TV show they watched each Tuesday was about to start. To his Read more
Amy Firth

Amy Firth

“We were always a close-knit family, and nothing could have prepared us for Amy’s sudden and untimely death,” said John Henderson, Amy’s father. Amy Kathleen Henderson Firth, a mother of two who married her high school sweetheart, was taken from the world at the young age of 38 due to complications of cerebral venous thrombosis, blood clots in the brain. Read more
Phillip Mattes

Phillip Mattes

Philip “Fibber” Mattes was a cowboy at heart. Cowboy boots, cowboy hats, blue jeans and ratty old barn jackets were some of his favorite things. Mattes passed away at the age of 73 due to a seizure, which caused heart failure. His wife Diane remembers Philip as loving. “He loved cattle auctions, trading cows, and he loved his beagle dog Read more
Gary Davison

Gary Davison

As an avid gardener and handyman, Gary Davison knew how to fix, build and plant just about anything you put in front of him. His love for children and helping people was not overlooked. At the age of 63, this loving man passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and fluid around his heart. His wife, Kathy Davison, fondly remembers Read more
Robert Rickerd

Robert Rickerd

Robert Rickerd was a loving husband and father of five children, ages two, three, eight, 12 and 21, but after suffering from a mental illness, Robert ended his live through a self-inflicted gunshot wound on August 13, 2014, at the age of 42.   The National Alliance of Mental Illness states that more than 30,000 suicide claims are reported in Read more
Alfred Molina

Alfred Molina

Two days after Alfred Ray Molina Sr. celebrated his 60th birthday, he experienced a heart attack as he rested his head on the shoulders of his wife, Vicky, after a long day from work. Vicky and Alfred shared a fairy tale love story as high-school sweethearts, where Alfred played football and baseball and Vicky was a cheerleader. Vicky was even Read more
Bruce Olson

Bruce Olson

 “I had the pleasure of calling this man my father. Thirty years, nine months, 30 days, four hours and 45 minutes here on earth, we got to make memories,” said Josh Olson, son of Bruce Olson. “Time is the most precious commodity out there. It is the one thing you can’t buy or ever buy back.” Bruce Olson suffered a Read more
Jose Guadalupe Tijerina Vargas

Jose Guadalupe Tijerina Vargas

Jouita Orzabal lost her son, Jose Guadalupe Tijerina Vargas, to a stroke on Oct. 12, 2013. Jouita said her son was outgoing, always tried to get people to laugh and had the nickname, "Lupe." Jose was the oldest of five brothers. "He always wanted to bring his brothers together and called himself the father of his brothers," Jouita said. Jouita Read more
Mack Caldwell

Mack Caldwell

Carla Jones lost her husband, Mack H. Caldwell, to a massive heart attack at the age of 60. “He was always happy and just a joy to be around,” Carla said. “He rarely became upset and was easygoing, and enjoyed playing jokes on friends and family.” Mack was a very hard worker who enjoyed his job and providing for his Read more
Maria Fowlkes

Maria Fowlkes

Frank Fowlkes lost his wife, Maria, to cancer at the age of 66. “Maria was a saint,” Frank said. “She loved her children and husband dearly and only wanted the best for all of them.” Maria was a loyal and considerate person with an exceptional work ethic. She was faithful and loved God greatly. “She never complained no matter what,” Read more
Martin Colunga Jr.

Martin Colunga Jr.

Martin Colunga, Jr. took his own life at the young age of 28. “He was my husband and my best friend,” said wife Maria Amador. “He was a very loving husband and father and was loved by a lot of people,” she said. “He had the prettiest smile.” Martin is the father of three children -- Brianna, 10, and Mark Read more
Derek Waterman

Derek Waterman

Patricia Waterman lost her son, Derek Allen Waterman, at the age of 26. His life was taken by an under-age drunk driver on February 16, 2014. Derek was on his way to pick up his four-year-old daughter when his life was taken. “Derek loved his little daughter, Aidan, with all that he was,” Patricia said. “She misses him dreadfully right Read more
Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson

Growing up, Mike Erickson played football and enjoyed the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, trail biking, canoeing, swimming, ice fishing – he loved them all. He was very quick-witted, with an exceptional sense of humor. His mother, Dorothy, describes him as a computer geek, and said he had talked about going to school in the computer field.   Before graduation, Mike enlisted Read more
Anthony L. Ciammitti

Anthony L. Ciammitti

You never said I'm leaving. You never said goodbye. You were gone before we knew it & only God knows why. It broke our hearts to lose you but you didn't go alone, for part of all of us went with you, the day that God took you home. The expression, “a parent should never have to bury his or Read more
Meagan Rickman

Meagan Rickman

At the age of 17, Meagan Rickman went into cardiac arrest during a surgery for placement of a pacemaker. Meagan was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare heart defect present at birth where the heart is critically underdeveloped. At nine weeks old, she received her first heart transplant and a second transplant at 12. Meagan was on the Read more
Ryan Jolley

Ryan Jolley

Ryan Michael Jolley passed away at just five days old. He was born with severe Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen. Ryan was Ashlee Hammac’s second son. Her pregnancy with Ryan was normal until she reached 34 weeks, when she suffered from a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), a mini stroke. On Read more
David Resendez

David Resendez

Kelli Resendez lost her husband, David Resendez, to a heart attack due to congestive heart failure at the age of 42. David was a father of four and grandfather of three. David was smart, funny and a fun person to be around. He was a “great husband who treated me like a queen,” Kelli said. Providing for his family was Read more
Winston Morris, Jr.

Winston Morris, Jr.

Winston Morris, Jr. passed away at age 55 of complications from head trauma following a fall. Debbie Morris, the wife of Winston, said he was very outgoing and always the life of the party.            Winston had a beautiful baritone voice and cried at movies and when he heard beautiful music, Debbie said. He was loyal Read more
William Love

William Love

Betty Love lost her son and only child, 44-year-old William Love, in a motorcycle accident. “Will was my life!” Betty said. “From a small child, he was usually very happy and fun-loving.” He was on the gymnastics team in high school, and both of his coaches showed up to the funeral to applaud what a hard worker he was. Betty Read more
Kenneth Lewis

Kenneth Lewis

Katrina Lewis lost her beloved husband, Kenneth Wayne Lewis, at the age of 49 due to a blood clot in his heart. “Kenneth was a very loving and kind hearted person,” Katrina said. “He would do anything for anyone and not think about himself at all. He loved helping people.” Katrina said if someone needed his help, he would go Read more
Walter Joseph, Jr.

Walter Joseph, Jr.

Walter Joseph, Jr., commonly known as “Rock,” became suddenly ill one night after participating in one thing he loved -- bowling. Andrea Joseph, Rock’s wife of six years and mate of 18 years, said he was bowling on a Monday night when all of the sudden he wasn’t able to take deep breaths and his heart was racing. Andrea said Read more
Ron Earley

Ron Earley

Kathy Earley lost her husband of 40 years, Ron Earley, to a massive stroke at the age of 62. “Ron was my very best friend!” Kathy said. The amount of love he had for her, their two sons, his daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren was “immeasurable.” Ron also loved dogs and would often say he couldn’t imagine life without one. Ron Read more
Evan Hauk

Evan Hauk

Evan John Hauk was taken from the world too soon when he was preparing for a family fishing trip on July 6, 2011. He was using worm prods to search for bait in the backyard when he fell on top of a prod and suffered an electrical shock that stopped his heart. He was only 13 ½ years old. “Evan Read more
Deanna Casey

Deanna Casey

Deanna was born with a smile as infectious as her laugh. As a child, she loved playing sports, being outside, socializing with the neighborhood kids and spending time with her family. Deanna orchestrated the family Fourth of July parade, was involved in jazz and tap dance, cheerleading and theatre. Deanna loved to talk, but always had a listening ear. A Read more
Corey Martinez

Corey Martinez

Kim Paine lost her youngest of three children, Corey Wayne Martinez, at the age of 21. Corey was involved in a single-car wreck and was texting while he was driving. “Corey loved life and made the best of every situation,” Kim said. He was a smart, witty prankster who loved making people laugh. He was also a good artist and Read more
Daniel Mataska

Daniel Mataska

Daniel Ray Mataska died in his sleep in October 2012 at the age of 17.  Daniel was mentally challenged and had epilepsy but didn’t have a seizure the night he died. According to his doctors, Daniel died of natural causes. “I put him to bed at 7:30 that night,” said Daniel’s mother Jennifer. “Reflecting back, I can only be grateful Read more
Jessica Mathews

Jessica Mathews

Julie Mathews Adams lost her oldest daughter, Jessica, at the age of 21. “She came home from college to watch her younger sister march in the band, and the next morning she did not wake up,” Julie said. Jessica’s mom and sister performed CPR on her, but she unfortunately did not recover. Jessica was a senior at Baylor University in Read more
Michiel Crabtree

Michiel Crabtree

Terri Crabtree lost her husband of 12 years, Michiel Earnest Crabtree, to a massive heart attack in January 2013. Mike had just turned 47 years old. “Mike was a very unique man; he thought of others before he thought of himself, and he always enjoyed talking and getting to know people,” Terri said. “He always had a spare smile for Read more
Gannon Grimmett

Gannon Grimmett

Coye Grimmett lost his son Gannon to heart failure at the age of 41. “Gannon was loving, caring, tender, generous and humorous,” Coye said. “He loved to do wood carvings and to learn new things. He was very spiritual.” Coye said it was Gannon’s wish to be a donor and, as parents, they carried out his wishes. They decided to Read more
Christina Pasewald

Christina Pasewald

“We were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Christina, on March 25, 1984. On July 2, 2007, Christina was tragically taken from us when she took her own life. Christina was a beautiful girl, inside and out. Everyone loved her. She was quite the social butterfly. She had a way about her that made you happy and smile when you were Read more
Mike Dunnam

Mike Dunnam

Mike Dunnam was 22 years old when he was involved in a fatal car accident. “Mike, or ‘Mikey’ to me, was born ready to embrace life,” said his mother Valerie Fourtunia. “He was such an adventurer, full of love, always ready for the next thrill.” Mike was a natural athlete. In his early years, at the age of nine, he Read more
Patrick Peterson

Patrick Peterson

Patrick Peterson passed away very suddenly of a blood clot in the heart at the age of 51. “Patrick was my husband of 34 years,” said wife Kay. “We have two boys.” Patrick owned his own bridge construction business for most of he and Kay’s lives together before he later became a crane operator. Kay said Patrick was fun loving, Read more
Anthony “Nini” Varela

Anthony “Nini” Varela

“My son Anthony “Nini” Varela was 18 years old when he passed away on August 8, 2010. He was my only son and the younger of my two children. At about 1:18 a.m. he was riding in an SUV with three of his friends on their way to his favorite fast food place, Jack In The Box. They were at Read more
David Bunk

David Bunk

“I lost my husband and my son lost his father very unexpectedly. Dave had just turned 60 on March 9 and passed away on March 22. It has been such a very difficult road to travel. Dave was such a giving and wonderful man and so easy to love. His faith was first and foremost in his life, and he Read more
Kenneth Klapperich

Kenneth Klapperich

“My story is probably pretty common – about a girl that loves her dad. I was always his princess. Everyone knew I had him wrapped around my finger – and he around mine. We did so much together. We would travel and explore and call each other numerous times per day. He always had problems with his hips and had Read more
Christopher White

Christopher White

After Christopher White had graduated from Wisconsin Heights High School in 2001, he worked two part-time jobs so he could pattern his waking hours around hunting, fishing and golfing. His father, Jerry White, says he was miffed by his son’s free-spirited attitude, preferring that he either continue his education or find full-time work. “Now, I’m glad he got to enjoy Read more
Peter Jordan Pintens

Peter Jordan Pintens

“Dark brown eyes, shiny dark brown hair and a quick smile were Pete’s trademarks. Everyone who met Pete knew soon his friendliness, sense of humor and laugh. Some characteristics came from his mom, some from his dad, but Pete was a unique and enjoyable person. Pete attended St. Joseph Catholic Grade School, where he played football and basketball for the Read more
Ralph Popp

Ralph Popp

Ninety-two year old Ralph Popp passed away in April 2008 after suffering from a massive heart attack at his granddaughter’s middle school volleyball game, the day before his 67th wedding anniversary. “He was in excellent health and swam almost every day,” said Ralph’s son Mick. “He never slowed down.” Mick remembers his father telling him that he didn’t want to Read more
Robert Frost

Robert Frost

When I was told that I could share my personal story about tissue donation I was excited, but I was also apprehensive because I wanted to make certain that everyone came away with the same positive feelings that I have about tissue donation. I have worked as a Donation Specialist in the Donor Support Center at RTI Donor Services for Read more
Deanna Casey

Deanna Casey

Deanna was born with a smile as infectious as her laugh. As a child, she loved playing sports, being outside, socializing with the neighborhood kids and spending time with her family. Deanna orchestrated the family Fourth of July parade, was involved in jazz and tap dance, cheerleading and theatre. Deanna loved to talk, but always had a listening ear. A Read more
Norma Jean Pierce

Norma Jean Pierce

“My mother passed away very suddenly in 1992. She died of congestive heart failure, and was also a breast cancer survivor, ruling out her donation of organs. At that time I didn’t know anything about tissue donation, but we assumed she would have been ruled out from donating there too. But when interviewed about donation, we were told that even Read more
Nick Oelrich

Nick Oelrich

Steve Oelrich, Florida State Senator and former Sheriff of Alachua County, Fla., clearly remembers Father’s Day 1995. That was the day his 18-year-old son Nick was left brain-dead by a head injury suffered during a fall at a post-high school graduation celebration. “This was absolutely the darkest moment of my life,” says Steve. Like most people, Steve and his family Read more
Bryant Dean

Bryant Dean

“On Thursday, May 20, 2010, my husband and I were two blocks from our home, and he was sitting on his parked motorcycle talking to me about our evening plans,” said wife Angelia Dean. “There was a pause in the conversation and, at 6:10 p.m., he fell off the side of his bike onto the concrete below, rolled his eyes Read more
Victor Lozada

Victor Lozada

Victor Lozada married the love of his life, Theresa, after having known her since he was nine years old. He then attended the University of Houston and joined the National Guard, but dreamed of having a career in law enforcement. Victor attended the academy and entered the ranks of the police department in 1988. “Over the years he was involved Read more
Eric Barlament

Eric Barlament

Kari and Eric Barlament of Brillion, WI, were celebrating one of life’s greatest joys – preparing for the birth of their first child – when tragedy struck their family. While on the way to the store to shop for baby items, their car was hit head-on after another motorist drifted across the centerline. Kari emerged with only broken bones and Read more
Elias Kluth

Elias Kluth

Elias Kluth passed away at the age of 15 months due to the result of an accident. Even at a young age, his mother Marisa said he had developed some breathtaking characteristics. “He had very big brown eyes, eyes that you didn’t want to take your own eyes off of,” Marisa recalls. “He was definitely a crowd stopper. He was Read more
Glanville family

Glanville family

Marge Glanville, of Arizona, has lost two heroic loved ones but says she is comforted by knowing that they live on in her heart and through their gifts of life to others. Marge’s son passed away in 1999 due to a brain tumor at the age of 55. Then in 2003, her husband died at 85 from pulmonary disease. Both Read more
Jimmariyah Sherrill

Jimmariyah Sherrill

Jimmariyah Sherrill was a smart young boy with an energetic and loving personality. Tragically, his life was taken at only 10 years old when he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in 2003. His grandmother and guardian, Deborah Jones, says that donating Jimmariyah’s tissue and organs gave her a sense of comfort because she knows that he Read more
Connelly Sanders, Jr.

Connelly Sanders, Jr.

Connelly Sanders, Jr., born in 1929 in Oklahoma, lived a full and happy life before passing away at the age of 74 while living in Marietta, Ga., with his wife, Rosemarie. After he graduated from the University of Missouri and Texas A&M as a civil engineer, Connelly joined the Army as a Regular Army Officer in the Corps of Engineers. Read more
Nancy Quick

Nancy Quick

Nancy Quick served in the United States Navy and later joined the reserves after her tour of duty was complete. In her early 40s, while helping care for her elderly parents, Nancy was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. “Her condition made it really hard for her to breathe, and Nancy was added to the national waiting list for a lung transplant. Read more
Quentin Durell

Quentin Durell

Quentin Durell, from Arizona, lived to be 83 years old and experienced the better part of the 20th century during his life. He suffered a heart attack and passed away in 2001. When Quentin passed away, his Hospice nurse asked Quentin’s children if they had considered organ and tissue donation. The family had never discussed donation before, but decided that Read more
Terry Snowden

Terry Snowden

Terry Snowden suffered of liver failure and passed away in Stoughton, Wis. at the age of 58. “He was very much a giver,” said Terry’s wife Jane. “He loved doing special things for me. He’d bring me flowers and gifts for no occasion, spoiling me however he could.” Jane described Terry as a huge sports fan, like herself, especially loyal Read more
Stephen Rutherford

Stephen Rutherford

Kathy Rutherford describes her son, Stephen, as the perfect baby boy with beautiful blue eyes and big dimples. He was a normal teenager who loved to have fun and make people laugh. Stephen always helped his fellow classmates at school by lending an ear so they would not feel so alone. He was friends with everyone. He was in every Read more
Melissa Hanson

Melissa Hanson

“My daughter and best friend, Melissa, was born on Christmas Day,” said mother Loni Wendt. “We lost her in a car accident on April 19, 2002, at the age of 16.” According to her mother, as Melissa grew up she quietly helped and befriended everyone she knew. She was a good listener and a peace maker. “Many people shared with Read more
Linda Heffernan

Linda Heffernan

Linda Heffernan passed away suddenly at the age of 50 in February 1999 from a pulmonary embolism, five days after undergoing elective surgery. She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother and a friend. She raised three children – son Tim and two older sisters, Karen and Kim. As many donor families know, when a close family member passes Read more
Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson lost her life in a car accident between Madison and Portage, Wis., just a short time after celebrating her 21st birthday. “She was a very caring person who liked making others feel good,” said Heather’s father, Bob. “Friendships were very important to her. She was very much focused on her education and working hard toward a degree.” Heather Read more
Clifford Nelson

Clifford Nelson

Clifford Nelson had lived a full and wonderful life when he passed away at the age of 84. He died of a massive stroke and had been on dialysis for just over seven years. His wife of 53 years, Lillie, said she and Clifford were introduced at a wedding dance. He was easy going as a whole, but also very Read more
Bob Jones

Bob Jones

Bob Jones’ life came to an end in the early hours of January 1, 2002. He and his wife, Kathy, had spent New Year’s Eve with their daughter and were driving back to their home in Dixon, Ill. when a drunk driver rear-ended their car at full speed. 
 His wife Kathy, who already had lost a brother to a Read more
Bette Kroll

Bette Kroll

Elizabeth “Bette” Kroll was an avid reader and gardener, especially known for her sparkling sense of humor. Bette lost her life at the age of 69, leaving behind three children and three grandchildren. “I don’t believe our children or grandchildren could have had a better role model,” said husband, Jerome. He described Bette as extremely intelligent and utterly selfless. Because Read more