Conversation bubbles with Text: Our Stories: Reflecting on 35 years of our impact

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network partners with StoryCorps Studios

In partnership with StoryCorps Studios, we brought together Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network staff, families and partners for candid conversations reflecting on their experiences with organ and tissue donation.

We invite you to listen in on their conversations: from individuals who helped start our organization more than 35 years ago, to others personally and profoundly affected by a coworker, a particular experience, or a loved one’s donation or transplant.

Check back regularly or follow us on social media for new stories every first and third Monday of the month.

About StoryCorps

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit whose mission is to record, preserve, and share stories. All conversations are archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Photo of organ & tissue donation coordinator Ruth Keith and retired transplant surgeon Dr. Beverly Ketel

“It’s miraculous to watch.”

Longtime organ & tissue donation coordinator Ruth Keith and retired transplant surgeon Dr. Beverly Ketel have been at the forefront of organ and tissue donation for over four decades. Their work has directly impacted thousands of donors, recipients and families.

Photos of Stephen Leite and Lynden Gault

“There’s so much humanity in what we do.”

One planned to be a veterinarian; the other, a firefighter. Both ended up in research labs that ultimately led them to work in organ and tissue donation. Lynden Gault is a laboratory supervisor, and Stephen Leite directs quality and operational excellence at Gift of Hope. They work with lab operations, data and regulations—and never forget the humanity in their impact.

“I wanted to do more.”

Longtime organ recovery leaders Michael Harmon and Evelyn Schultz have witnessed how the loss of life can be a gift of life to others. Both transitioned from other healthcare careers to roles at Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network because they wanted “to do more.”

Jack Lynch and Jerry Anderson portraits

“We’ve saved thousands and thousands of lives.”

Reflecting on careers spanning several decades, Gift of Hope retirees Jerry Anderson and Jack Lynch know their life’s work helped save the lives of thousands of people. Their personal dedication to organ and tissue donation built a sturdy foundation for the ongoing success of Gift of Hope.

Roy Mayfield and Brett Kesserling

“They called us the Rescue Rangers”

Colleagues and friends Roy Mayfield and Brett Kesselring share life-changing memories that come from their complex and emotional roles of coordinating organ and tissue donation at Gift of Hope. Their own lives have been forever changed, and they treasure the fulfillment gained from personal connections and life-changing decisions.

Mariam Moore and Marion Shuck

“Wrapped in love”

Twin sisters Marion Shuck and Miriam Moore know what it feels like for a community to surrounded them with love. The death of Reggie Shuck, Marion’s husband, unleashed a flood of support from Gift of Hope colleagues. The two reflect on how Marion’s personal experience and the general misconceptions about donation motivate her to educate individuals in marginalized communities.

StoryCorps - portrait of Renata and Nick

A ‘family’ helping families

When your work colleagues feel like family, extending care and support to donor families flows from those relationships. Renata Krzyston and Nickolas Harmon explain how a supportive workplace culture in Donor Family Services inspires their response when families “need you right now.”

Organ, eye and tissue donation is an act of compassion that connects all of us, offering the gift of life and healing to people in need. It provides families of organ and tissue donors with something positive amid loss, knowing their loved one saved or healed someone’s life with their gift of donation.

An individual could save up to 8 lives as an organ donor, heal more than 25 people as a tissue donor, and restore sight for two people.

The need for registrations remains critical.

95% of people support donation, but fewer than 60% are registered donors.

We strongly encourage everyone who has not registered as a donor to learn about donation, register as a donor, and talk with their family about their decision.

Join the 7.5 million Illinoisans and more than 3.5 Indiana residents who said “yes” to donation.

Layout Settings