Tri-County Health Care welcomed guests and donors to Donate Life 2022! Lois Miller, a Registered Nurse at Tri-County Health Care, organizes the event. The ceremony is the product of several months of organizing. Because of this, Lois takes great pride in the event and views it as a means of keeping organ donation in the minds of potential donors.
After a kickoff by Lois, LifeSource Representative Barb Nelson-Agnew took to the podium. She explained the importance of organ donation with the help of a special bee mascot. The bee danced and encouraged the crowd to sign up for organ donation. According to Nelson-Agnew, the bee represented the giving power of nature itself and was the perfect mascot to show how vital organ donation is. Cathy Dudley, a hospital liaison at Mayo Clinic, dawned the bee uniform. Tri-County Health Care was only one stop on her mission to get people to “bee a donor!”
Dawn and Julia
This year’s ceremony included two speakers, Julia Snyder, a living organ donor, and Dawn Kemper, an organ donation recipient. The pair guided the small crowd through their personal journeys with organ donation.
In 2011, Dawn Kemper found out she suffered from polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease that causes cysts to form on the kidneys. In 2014, she contracted a kidney infection that placed her on dialysis. She was able to recover from the infection and get off dialysis. However, her hope was short-lived. In 2016, after meeting with a nephrologist, Dawn learned she might need to be placed back on dialysis due to her declining kidney health. According to her doctor, she was at 6 percent kidney health. Dawn needed a new kidney and quick. She was eventually contacted for a kidney transplant, but that opportunity fell through. After an emotional journey to receive this kidney, she found out the kidney went to another recipient who required multiple organs. “God had different plans,” said Dawn.
Julia is a living organ donor, which means she is willing to donate organs or tissues while still living. During her tearful speech, she explained that she had never suffered from any health complications in her life. Julia changed after the death of a close friend who was also an avid believer in organ donation. This friend was always trying to get others to check the little organ donation box. This loss made Julia an advocate for the cause.
Later on, after a failed attempt to donate to her nephew, Julia found the National Pair Exchange for organ donation. This system helps recipients pair with donors faster after experiencing compatibility issues. Through this system, Julia and Dawn met. The pair participated in a cross transplant with an unknown donor in Georgia. Essentially, Snyder wanted to donate a kidney directly to Kemper, but they were incompatible. After this, Snyder donated a kidney to the individual in Georgia and Kemper received a kidney from the compatible donor. This process is also known as a “kidney swap.”
Donate and live better
“The most amazing part was watching Dawn become healthy again,” remarked Julia. Furthermore, the pair shared the hope that others will consider organ donation. In conclusion, guests draped the Donate Life flag from a railing above, Drawing Donate Life 2022 to a close.
To learn more about Tri-County Health Care’s Garden of Hope or how to become an organ donor, please visit TCHC.org/patients-and-visitors/organ-donation.