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Donor Families & Recipients

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Donor Family Advisory Council


Our Donor Family Advisory Council guides us in the aftercare services we offer to donor families and helps us plan and conduct special events for donor families to honor their loved ones. The Advisory Council consists of family members of organ and tissue donors from throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana. Together, they work to honor legacies and motivate others to embrace donation.

Meet the Members of Our Donor Family Advisory Council

  • Larry Lefferts

    Larry LeffertsLarry Lefferts, a donor father, has been a member of the Donor Family Advisory Council along with his wife, Vivian, since 2005. His 22-year-old son, John, died from an aortic aneurysm in 2004. John was a cornea, bone and tissue donor whose gifts have touched the lives of more than 30  people. A resident of Normal, Larry joined the Council to help raise public awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation and to spread John’s story of selfless giving. “The loss of a child is the cruelest fate parents can experience,” Larry says. “Nothing can prepare you for the shock and overwhelming grief from such a blow. Gift of Hope and my involvement with the Donor Family Advisory Council have offered a measure of comfort and healing I could not have found anywhere else. It is uplifting to be associated with the other Council members and Gift of Hope staff. It is a blessing to me to be a volunteer for donation awareness.”

  • Vivian Lefferts

    Vivian LeffertsVivian Lefferts, a donor mother, has been a member of the Donor Family Advisory Council along with her husband, Larry, since 2005. Her 22-year-old son, John, died from an aortic aneurysm in 2004. John was a cornea, bone and tissue donor whose gifts have touched the lives of more than 30  people. A resident of Normal, Vivian joined the Council to provide insight into a parent’s perspective after the loss of a child, to become better acquainted with the Gift of Hope and to spread John’s story of selfless giving. “As the mother of a donor, I know first-hand what a tremendous gift John offered to others,” Vivian says. “It comforts me to know that a part of him still lives on in others and that he has helped other people with their difficulties. So many people readily recognize the gift that donation provides to recipients, but we want to help them recognize what a profound gift it is to the family and loved ones left behind. It truly provides hope for the future and the knowledge that a death was not in vain. Life truly does go on.”

  • Julie Prangl

    Julie PranglJulie Prangl, a donor mother, has been a member of the Donor Family Advisory Council since 2008. Her 17-year-old son, Nicholas, was tragically killed in an auto accident in 2007. His organ and tissue gifts have given hope and life to more than 20 people. Julie also is the mother of a recipient. Her daughter, Lindsey, had an ankle transplant in 2008. “As the mother of a both a donor and recipient, I have seen both sides of organ and tissue donation—the joy and the tragedy,” says Julie, a resident of Arlington Heights. “Working with Gift of Hope gives me the opportunity to share my story and increase awareness of the need for these lifesaving gifts. Even though my son is gone, I am still his mom, and working with Gift of Hope gives me an opportunity to speak his name, tell his story and feel like I am still his mom. The Council has been a godsend. It is a great way to be involved with Gift of Hope and helping to shape how things are stated and presented to donor families. My involvement with Gift of Hope has been extremely meaningful. It has helped significantly in my grieving process, and I would try to pay that forward through my involvement in the Council.”

  • Dan Richardson

    Dan RichardsonAurora resident Dan Richardson, a donor father, has been a member of the Donor Family Advisory Council along with his wife, Lisa, since 2008. Their seven-year-old son, Dylan, died in a motor vehicle accident July 2007 and gave life to three people as an organ donor. “Lisa and I joined the Donor Family Advisory Council because we feel it provides a real opportunity for us to contribute to Gift of Hope's mission and to recognize and honor other donor families in effective and meaningful ways,” he says. “Gift of Hope was there for us in our time of need. Our participation on the Council provides us with a means of repaying Gift of Hope's tremendous contribution and allows us to educate others about the importance of organ donation, dismiss misconceptions and share the magnificent feeling we have experienced in knowing our Dylan helped others. As a donor father, I know first-hand how it feels to know a loved one saved lives through donation and to experience the solace that comes with that knowledge. My loved one was my son, Dylan. He is now my ‘superhero,’ and I'm so very proud of him. Without this goodness resulting from his tragic death, I don't know how—or if—I could have survived the grief.”

  • Lisa Richardson

    Lisa RichardsonAurora resident Lisa Richardson, a donor mother, has been a member of the Donor Family Advisory Council along with her husband, Dan, since 2008. Their seven-year-old son, Dylan, died in a motor vehicle accident July 2007 and gave life to three people as an organ donor. Lisa joined the Council because she felt it would be a way to help people who have lost a loved one cope with their tragic loss. “My involvement with Gift of Hope has been comforting for me,” she says. “To educate, help and support others is personally worthwhile. I volunteer on the Donor Family Advisory Council to offer insight and compassion to other families who find themselves in the same situation I was in. My involvement is very rewarding.”

  • Anita Tracy

    Anita TracyAnita Tracy, a donor mother, has been a member of our Donor Family Advisory Council since 2002. Her son, John, died in April 2000 and gave life to others as an organ and tissue donor. Anita joined the Council to support Gift of Hope’s mission, to help others gain a better understanding of donation and to share her views on donation-related issues. “By donating my time and ideas, maybe more people will become donors,” says Anita, a resident of Orland Park. “Being on the Donor Family Advisory Council has helped me grieve peacefully and has made me a stronger person so that I can share my story and connect with other donor family members to help them through the grieving process.”

  • Patricia Tracy

    Patsy TracyPatsy Tracy is the daughter of Donor Family Advisory Council member Anita Tracy. Her brother, John, died in April 2000 and gave life to others as an organ and tissue donor. Patsy, a resident of Orland Park, joined the Council in 2002 after witnessing “the beautiful outcome” of organ, tissue and eye donation. John saved the lives of seven people through donation and enhanced the lives of countless others. “I couldn’t say no when asked to share our insights with others as a donor family,” she says. “I knew nothing about donation and the transplantation process, so I needed to learn more so I could reach out to other people who had been involved on both the donor and recipient side of donation.” Patsy, an active Girl Scouts member when her brother died, applied the knowledge she gained about donation to earn her Gold Award—the highest award a Girl Scout can earn—by sharing her personal story to educate the public about the importance of donation.

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Inspirations: Contribute to Our Online Tribute Book

Many donor families and transplant recipients share their donation experiences in Inspirations, our online Donor Family and Transplant Recipient Tribute Book. We invite you to read their stories and hope they will inspire you write your own and make the decision to donate life.

Honoring Those Who Gave:
Donor Family Tributes

Grateful to Those Who Gave:
Transplant Recipient Tributes

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Have a Question

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network
Headquarters: 425 Spring Lake Drive, Itasca, IL 60143
Chicago Office: 2600 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 416, Chicago, IL 60616
Springfield Office: 2401 Memphis Drive, Springfield, IL 62702

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