Last Friday I had the honor of speaking to a small group at Lutheran General Hospital with Tim Joos. Tim got to tell them about his daughter Samantha, and the gifts she gave others. I posted about Sam a while ago. I got to tell them about Kari. It’s an honor presenting with Tim or Annie or any donor family member. Our presentations about Sam and Kari are pretty powerful, maybe because they were both the same age and both seemed to have some of the same perspectives on life. And both said almost the same thing about organ donation: “Why wouldn’t you want to help someone else when you were through with life here?”
It was special for me because 49 years, 1 month and 10 days before our presentation, I was born at Lutheran General Hospital. I also met some very neat people – including a chaplain who helps train other chaplains, but also deals with a lot of patients in the cystic fibrosis community at Lutheran General. I’ve known a number of CF patients from Lutheran General and I know how strongly they feel about that hospital. He mentioned that he’d been at the bedside, with the families, of a number of CF patients as they died. I think he really enjoyed seeing someone who came out on top.
I gave him a copy of the newspaper article cover back page (warning - 5meg .pdf files) that was published in Kari’s hometown last year about Kari and me and our climb – I always have them with me when I speak. Actually, I virtually always have a half-dozen in my jacket pocket just in case someone asks about my green ribbon pin or Iowa… I know he read the article, because the next day I got a pledge and a message on my Hustle page:
Dear Steve, I met you at Lutheran General yesterday and read your newspaper article. All I can say is WOW!, to Kari and her parents for the gift of life. Also, for you and all you have done for organ donation. I wish you'd let Kari's parents know how you radiated love and life from their daughter to me. Also, that you continue to keep Kari's memory alive every day of your own life. You are truly an inspiration! May God grant you a long and healthy life, and give Kari's parents peace.
I will let Kari’s parents know – I did send Dru a note back… I hope he understands what his note means to me.
On another kinda-related note… Scott over at I am. Are you? put Tim and me in contact with a lady named Cathy Doheny who writes about organ and tissue donation for www.examiner.com. She wanted to interview a donor family member and recipient and Scott referred her to both of us. Cathy started her series of posts about Samantha, and her interview of Tim:
At the bottom of each post there is a slide show with several pictures of Sam that Tim uses during his presentation.
Check ‘em out – they are beautiful and powerful stories…