By Martin Kinnunen
Amid tears of gratitude and hugs
of thanks, organ recipients, families whose loved ones became organ donors, and
other speakers helped UPMC launch National Donate Life Month, which is observed
On April 1, UPMC
hospitals throughout the region held ceremonies to raise Donate Life flags and
promote awareness about the importance of signing up as a voluntary organ
donor. The ceremony at UPMC Montefiore became especially emotional when Malinda
Sherid of Westmoreland County spoke.
In February 2001, Sherid
drove to pick up her daughter, Kim, at Greensburg Salem High School, where she
was an honors student who participated in yearbook, volleyball, dance and a
host of other activities. Their car hit a patch of black ice and was struck
broadside by a school van. At the hospital, where she was being treated for a
concussion, Sherid learned Kim had suffered severe head injuries and would
not survive. Kim had registered as an organ donor when she received her
driver’s license. Sherid remembered Kim telling her, “Mom, if it can help
someone. That’s what I want to do.”
Sherid said her daughter’s
organs have helped many. Kim’s liver went to a woman in the Philadelphia area.
One kidney was transplanted into a resident of Ohio, who then gained the
strength to return to college. Kim’s other kidney went to New Jersey, while her
heart valves were used to save lives in Georgia and Virginia. Knowing that her
daughter’s selflessness gave others a second chance at life helped the mother
deal with her own overwhelming sense of loss and grief.
Sherid thanked the
physicians, nurses, and other staff members in UPMC Transplant Services and
representatives of the Center for Organ Recovery
& Education (CORE) for their efforts to encourage organ donation. “As a
donor mom, I applaud you,” she said.
Other speakers included John
Innocenti, president, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, who noted more than 121,000
people in the United States are in need of a transplant, and of those, 8,400
are right here in Pennsylvania.
“Our work is not done,” said Innocenti, adding that UPMC, working in partnership with CORE, is committed to
increasing the number of people willing to give the gift of becoming an organ
Review the UPMC
Donate Life Event flier to learn about other events being held at
UPMC during Donate Life Month.
Are you a registered organ donor? Sign
a donor card today and give the gift of
life. Join the discussion
on Facebook and Twitter and #MakeThePledge.
Labels: Donate Life Month, organ donation, transplant