Family members of organ donors carried a torch from Delaware City Hall to Grady Memorial Hospital to help raise awareness about organ donation Friday afternoon.
“Hundreds have been healed through transplants,” said Jessica Peterson, media and public relations coordinator for Lifeline of Ohio. “I think I have the greatest job in the world.”
The torch carry was the last event this month to raise awareness about April as “National Donate Life Month.” The torch carry started at the front steps of City Hall where Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle read a proclamation encouraging all citizens of Delaware to share the gift of life through organ, eye and tissue donations.
According to Lifeline statistics, a single donor could possibly save eight lives through organ donation and help 50 people through tissue donations. In Ohio, 3,179 people — more than 650 in central Ohio — are waiting for organ transplants. In Delaware County, 79 percent of residents are registered organ and tissue donors.
Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” Kuba was 23 years old when she suffered a brain aneurysm and suddenly passed away. “Betsy had made it clear to us when she had gotten her driver license that she had become an organ donor,” said Cindy Kuba, Betsy’s mother.
Betsy was able to save the lives of three adults and a 9-month-old baby which doctors had given only two weeks to live. The baby happened to be named Elizabeth Ann also.
Betsy’s parents met Elizabeth Ann six weeks after she received the liver. “Elizabeth is 12 years old now and doing awesome,” Kuba said.
Adam Wasielewski was 6 years old when his father and he were involved in a vehicle accident in Delaware. Adam’s corneas, heart valves and Achilles tendon were donated. “Adam’s tissue donation enhanced the lives up to 50 individuals,” said Marcia Wasielewski, Adam’s mother. “My husband, daughter and I are very active with Lifeline. We feel very passionate about people not forgetting who Adam was and what he did to impact so many different lives.”
Sarah Jane Scarborough was 24 years old and living in Texas when an unexpected illness deteriorated her liver. She was put at the top of the transplant list for a new liver. “When they were doing testing on her, they determined she was brain-dead,” said Janie Scarborough, Sarah’s mother. “We went in expecting a transplant but she ended up a donor.”
Sarah’s heart was donated to another woman in the same hospital. “Dana was the name of the recipient,” Scarborough said. “I got to meet Dana a year after Sarah passed away. She has become like an adopted daughter to me.”
Corinne Gasper’s daughter, Jennifer Hrobuchak, had learned about organ donation at school. “She came home and told me when she was 16 years old about wanting to be an organ donor,” she said. “So we went and signed up together.”
Hrobuchak passed away July 24, 2012, as a result of a vehicle accident on her way to her first job after graduating college. “The guy was going 82 miles per hour when he T-boned her car,” Gasper said. After Hrobuchak’s donation, “they said she could have impacted as many as 50 recipients.”
Lifeline is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes and coordinates the donation of human organs and tissue for transplant.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.