Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a STORY and it will live in my heart forever. -Ancient Proverb
In the spring of 2015, Iowa Donor Network (IDN), hired Allyn Salz to assist with transportation responsibilities. From day one, Allyn’s “never met a stranger” personality was the perfect fit for the position. When driving surgeons and recovery staff to and from hospitals, Allyn’s love of people and conversation always made the trip a little more enjoyable. When transporting donors to receiving funeral homes, Allyn’s storytelling ability always made him a welcomed guest. To quote one local funeral director, “If Mother Nature serves out the Gift of Gab, Allyn Salz went back for a second helping.”
In the early hours at the office, Allyn would always greet you with a handshake and a “Good Morning,” and you knew right away he sincerely wished you a good morning. Todd Hoing, IDN Materials Management Administrator, fondly recalls that if you were in the office and Allyn hadn’t seen you, he was never afraid to come find you, if for no other reason than to just say hello.
Mike Gillespie, IDN transportation assistant and Allyn’s long time best friend shared “Allyn had a unique ability, whether he was telling you a story for the first time or the fifth, you always felt a little better after it was finished than before it began.” In the five years Allyn worked at Iowa Donor Network, we hired five new transportation assistants who came to us after hearing their friend, Allyn Salz, share his story of IDN’s mission - Working Together to Transform Lives through Donation.
Rest in Peace Allyn - we miss you.
Dr. Barry Browne
WISE SURGEON, CARING HEART: In memory of Dr. Barry Browne, transplant surgeon at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego.
Dr. Barry Browne
Lifesharing was fortunate to work with Dr. Browne on hundreds of cases over the years. A highly skilled transplant surgeon, Dr. Browne performed more than 600 kidney and pancreas transplants over his career at Sharp Memorial. He was extraordinarily efficient and hardworking and set the bar very high for others in the field. He had an extremely high survival rate for kidney transplants.
Dr. Browne was a tireless advocate for the 19,000 Californians on the waiting list for a new kidney. He pioneered innovative techniques to increase living donations, so that patients would not have to wait months or years to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. He also talked about his work on local television news in an effort to raise awareness of organ donation. Dr. Browne devoted his life to getting people off dialysis so they could start living their best lives.
Lifesharing Executive Director Lisa Stocks put it best when she said, “We miss having Dr. Browne in our circle of life. We miss his passion, his commitment to his profession, his obvious love for his family, and his voice.”
Dr. Browne’s family and colleagues recently honored his memory by placing a butterfly on Lifesharing’s memorial wall. They thought it fitting that his butterfly should soar alongside the organ donors who helped him save lives. Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/AtbC6PHDOXE Dr. Browne’s butterfly is emerald green, with these words etched on the wings: “Barry Browne, Wise Surgeon, Caring Heart.”
In early April, the world lost one of its brightest lights. Heart recipient, donor dad, husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) football alumni, and Nevada Donor Network volunteer Cliff Conedy lived every day filled with pure joy. He made it his mission in life to honor the gift his heroic donor Tony made possible more than 11 years ago. Cliff proudly represented Team Nevada in the 2014, 2016, and 2018 Donate Life Transplant Games -- winning dozens of medals and even more friends. This gentle giant's kind heart and soul are deeply missed by many. Our dear friend Cliff is greatly loved and forever remembered.
Erin Gillard was a valued member of The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland’s (LLF) family services team from 2012–2017, serving as a family services coordinator, grief counselor, and manager of the team during her time with the organization. Erin was passionate about helping others and supported not only our donor families and community, but also our teams internally. As a social worker, colleague, and friend, Erin was exceptionally intuitive. She had the unique ability to sense exactly what you needed in the moment, whether it be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or a laugh. Her bright smile, infectious laugh, and kind heart brought warmth even in the darkest moment. She is deeply missed.
Our employee and friend Javier Esparza called his donated heart a blessing, and we believe his donation journey crossed our path for a reason.
On Thanksgiving 2011, he received his second chance at life, which ended an eight-year battle of two heart attacks, three stents, a pacemaker and, temporarily, an artificial heart. Profoundly touched by the generosity of his donor and donor family, he wanted to do something to give back.
He signed up to be a Donate Life Arizona volunteer, and in 2015, he joined Donor Network of Arizona (DNA) as a part-time employee with the Marketing and Communications department. He focused on organizing marketing materials for our team to use for public and professional outreach efforts.
While he always had the desire, Javier never got to meet his donor’s family, but our hearts are full knowing he lived his final years encouraging others to register as organ, eye and tissue donors to offer organ waiting list patients some hope.
We have no doubt his efforts have been, and will continue to be, a blessing to so many others.
He was 66 years old when he passed away in February. He will be missed by us at DNA.
Jeremiah Turcotte, M.D.
Jeremiah Turcotte, M.D.
UNOS honors the leadership and service of Jeremiah Turcotte, M.D., who passed away Feb. 12.
Dr. Turcotte spent his entire career at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He chaired the university’s department of surgery for more than a decade and trained countless clinicians who continue in practice today.
He made many contributions to the science and the professional discipline of transplantation. He was part of surgical teams that performed both the first kidney transplant and the first liver transplant in the state of Michigan. He and colleague C. Gardner Child, M.D., developed a scoring system to assess the severity of liver disease that was used for several years in OPTN liver allocation policy. He was a founding member and president of the Transplantation Society of Michigan as well as a founding member and president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.
He served in more than 20 positions of volunteer leadership with UNOS and the OPTN over the span of 13 years. He was the first chair of the Ethics Committee, later chairing the Liver and Intestinal Organ Transplantation and the Membership and Professional Standards Committee. He was president of the Board of Directors from 2001 to 2002.
In an interview with the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, Dr. Turcotte characteristically emphasized not his own contributions but those of the transplant community of which he was a part. He was especially proud of the role the University of Michigan played in training transplant surgeons, which became a model for many other academic medical programs. He also reflected fondly on his role in developing the ethical framework for organ transplantation, particularly the emphasis on balancing medical utility and justice factors.
A true pioneer in many aspects of organ donation and transplantation, his legacy lives on.
Jill Hyde Wright
Jill Hyde Wright
Jill Hyde Wright volunteered for DonorConnect for many years. When Utah was creating their online registry in 2002, Jill, along with her donor’s mother, volunteered much of her time giving presentations and helping people understand why the registry was such an important tool that would allow people to make their donation wishes known.
Jill was also a volunteer for a nonprofit organization, the Quest for the Gift of Life. Through her volunteer work there, she helped with fundraising to make the Celebration of Life Monument, which honors organ, eye, tissue and whole body donors, in Salt Lake City a reality.
Throughout the years, Jill has continued to share her transplant story to help people understand the importance of donation and transplant. Recently, Jill starting a podcast dedicated to all things transplant. She interviewed people with a personal connection to donation and gave them the platform to share their stories and make a difference. Having been through a transplant herself, she was able to relate to her guests and ask pertinent questions.
Jill was a two-time heart transplant recipient. She lived life to the fullest, traveling, hiking and skiing. She loved spending time with family and friends. Everyone she met soon became a friend. Jill passed away on February 20, 2020. The transplant community has lost a good friend and advocate.
Harry Congdon was one the The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland’s (LLF) most tenured and dedicated team members. Serving as a family services coordinator from 1999 to 2020, Harry’s professional and personal impact on his team, our organization, and the entire donation and transplantation community was immense.
Harry was instrumental in the development of The LLF’s family services model, gently leading us to see that no single person could meet the needs of a donor family while simultaneously balancing the many clinical priorities of a deceased donor. He brought awareness to the importance of grief support during and after a loss, recognizing the essential role of the donor and their family. Harry understood from the very beginning how caring for a family in their time of grief is not only the right thing to do, but also creates a culture change of the benefits of donation within a community. He was committed to building a program where every family was connected to a mental health professional to support them through the most difficult days of their lives, regardless of their donation decision. His commitment to our community changed the way our organization was viewed by hospital partners and the community we serve. The model he helped develop went on to serve as inspiration to other programs, extending his legacy to help countless families across the country and even the globe.
As a pioneering member of The LLF team, Harry took on the role of teacher and mentor for every new family services employee. Up until his death, every current member of the family services team had trained with Harry. This legacy was not only local but national as well, as Harry would sometimes travel to other organ procurement organizations to share his knowledge and experience, seeking to improve donor family services across the country.
In addition to his professional legacy, Harry was a generous soul, a fierce activist, and a dear friend. He understood the power of optimism and hope as well as the need for sadness and reflection. Harry fought for equality and justice and peace. He never stopped working towards making the world better for everyone around him; those he knew and those he didn’t know yet. He was a man full of life, compassion, and joy.
To have worked, loved, cried, and laughed alongside Harry was a true privilege. He is deeply missed.
Maikki Nekton was a dedicated member of The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland’s (LLF) family services team from 2016-2019. Maikki was, and continues to be, the embodiment of The LLF’s mission to recognize that, through loss, there can be hope. After being diagnosed with a rare type of liver cancer, Maikki received a second chance at life through the gift of a liver transplant from a close friend. This experience inspired her to give back by exploring opportunities in the donation and transplantation field, which led her to The LLF.
Her bright smile, joyful laugh, and caring heart is missed by all at The LLF. Maikki was a strong, dedicated, and compassionate woman who, when given a second chance of her own, asked how she could do more to support those who make second chances possible every day. Her passion in supporting donor families and the general public through the grief experience was a meaningful and significant contribution that will continue to echo throughout the donation community.
Board Member, Washington Regional Transplant Community
In April of this year the WRTC family lost one of its own. For 28 years, Patricia “Pat” Gurne served on WRTC’s Board of Directors where her intellect, passion and strength inspired fellow board members and staff alike. An attorney by trade, she was a Managing Director at Jackson & Campbell, PC before starting her own firm in 2000.
“Pat was a force and the ‘real deal’,” said Lori Brigham, President and C.E.O. of WRTC. “For almost 30 years, her dedication and commitment to donation advocacy and WRTC never wavered. She is irreplaceable.”
In addition to being a widely respected lawyer – she received the Woman Lawyer of the Year Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Washington, D.C. in 1999 – Pat was a cancer survivor with an indomitable spirit. An avid golfer and skier, she was blessed with boundless energy and a limitless capacity to give. Her devilish and irreverent humor always shined through, her love of laughter and desire to have productive and intellectual debates will make her deeply missed by her family, friends, and all who knew her.