This National Donate Life Month we asked our member organ procurement organizations (OPOs) to share with us the stories that demonstrate the life-saving work they do every day, and the incredible gift of life organ, eye and tissue donation can provide. The following story was submitted by Elissa Berman, Director of Bereavement Services at Lifebanc in Cleveland, Ohio.

Marlene Shay holding a picture of her son Adam in The Green Chair

In January 2014 Marlene Shay lost her son Adam to heroin overdose. Adam became an organ donor, donating both kidneys and his pancreas to two patients in need. Marlene was anxious for Adam’s recipients to make contact. A year had passed and Marlene was struggling; she had heard from the recipient of Adam’s kidney, but not the recipient of his kidney and pancreas. A few days later a letter arrived and Marlene learned that the recipient waited a year intentionally.

The recipient who was offered Adam’s kidney and pancreas first declined. When the next potential recipient received the offer she knew it was meant for her. She was recovering from addiction herself and wanted to give Adam a year of sobriety before writing to Marlene. The Shay family met his recipient at her 12-Step meeting where she presented them with a one-year chip for Adam.

Today Marlene volunteers with Lifebanc and is a passionate spokesperson for organ, eye and tissue donation.

Photo provided by Marlene Shay and Lifebanc.
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