Colette, center

In October of 2006, Lisle resident, Colette Jordan, received the news that she had an autoimmune disease and was in dire need of a liver transplant. Miraculously, a match was found for Colette and she received her transplant at Northwestern Memorial Medical Center nine days later.

Without the gift from her organ donor, Colette knew she would not be alive. She knew very little about the person who saved her life beyond the fact that her donor was an adult male. She decided to write to her donor’s family, to let them know she was doing well and to thank them and her donor for this precious gift.

“I wrote them for two years and never heard anything back,” said Colette. “I would write them on my transplant anniversary and on special holidays just to let them know I was doing well and to express my gratitude. I really wanted to meet the family of the man who saved my life, but I knew that they lost someone they loved and I didn’t know if they would respond to my letters.”

Recently, Colette got a chance to meet her donor family and learn more about the man who saved her life, Tom Kaiserauer. Today, Tom’s family has become an extension of Colette’s own and they remain in close contact.

“Every day I talk to Tom,” said Colette. “In the morning, I’ll say ‘OK Tom, it’s time to start our day.’ Anytime I have a challenge or a goal I’m trying to achieve, I say ‘I’m doing this for Tom.’”

Transplant Life Illinois

Tom, Colette’s donor

In honor of Tom and the new lease on life that she now has after transplant, Colette has committed herself to serve as an organ donation advocate. She currently serves as treasurer of Transplant Life Illinois, organization that brings together transplant recipients, living donors, donor families and team supporters on a regular basis to raise awareness of the need for donations of every kind — organ, tissue, cornea, bone marrow and blood. The organization’s highlight event is the bi-annual Transplant Games of America.

The Transplant Games is a multi-sport festival event produced by the Transplant Life Foundation for individuals who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries. This event is designed to increase awareness of the life-restoring importance of organ, cornea, bone marrow, and tissue donation through the lives of the athlete-recipients and the lasting legacy of their donors.

Colette first became involved with the games in 2008 when they were held in Pittsburgh. Since then, Colette has competed in five Transplant Games and one international games, winning her first gold medal in doubles bowling in 2016.

The 2018 Transplant Games of America will be held in Salt Lake City. Colette will compete in corn hole, darts, table tennis and team trivia.

“Participating in the Transplant Games gives me another way to honor Tom and the gift he gave me,” said Colette. “I know at Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, families can create quilt squares in memory of their loved ones who donated organs or tissue. At the Transplant Games, recipients can also create quilt squares and it was an incredible experience to be at the opening ceremony as the quilt was carried into the Stadium by donor family members while crowds were cheering on Team Illinois.”

Gift of Hope applauds Colette and all the courageous athletes participating in the 2018 Transplant Games of America and honors all the donors whose generous gifts of organs and tissue have given new hope to people in need.

If you would like to support Transplant Life Illinois and help future athletes attend the Transplant Games, please visit: http://www.goteamillinois.org/