WHS receives awards for organ donation campaign

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, September 23, 2017

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Award Ceremony

AWARD CEREMONY – Representatives of LifeGift gave Wise Health System two awards Wednesday for helping raise awareness of organ donation. Messenger photo by Racey Burden

Wise Health System’s efforts to register organ donors earned two awards from LifeGift Wednesday.

LifeGift, a certified organ procurement organization, presented two awards to WHS – the Donate Life National Organ Donation Campaign Let Life Bloom award, which WHS received for registering 33 people as organ, tissue and eye donors; and the Donate Life Texas Unite for Life Campaign award for contributing to Texas’ list of 9.7 million donors.

Donna Smith of LifeGift said 55 percent of WHS’s community is registered to donate organs compared to the 44 percent national average.

“That’s amazing,” Smith said.

WHS had three organ donors last year, including Johnathan McKibben, whose donation was the subject of a August 2016 Messenger story.

Kelly Jones, who coordinated efforts to speak to local groups about organ donation and donor enrollment, thanked the rest of the WHS staff for raising awareness.

“When you put a team together that really cares about this, it shows what you can do,” Jones said.

LifeGift also brought Wayne and Sharon Battles of North Richland Hills to speak at the awards luncheon. Wayne received a heart transplant in 1997.

“When we knew Wayne was going to be transplanted it went from excitement, then we got a little scared, then we thought about our donor,” Sharon said.

Wayne’s donor was 16-year-old Lindsay Fankhauser, who was killed in a car accident in Oklahoma. Her mother, Sherri Valder, made the decisions to donate Lindsay’s organs. She later met with the Battles to ensure Wayne was taking good care of her daughter’s heart.

Wayne has been in good health in the 20 years since the donation, living to see the births of his six grandchildren.

“I’ve been able to do anything I’ve wanted to do,” Wayne said. “I could not ask for a better life than the one I’ve had the past 20 years. But truly, even for the life I’ve had, I would give it up if I could bring that 16-year-old girl back.

“The most important part of organ donation is the donor,” he said. “Without them, donation programs are not possible.”

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