Discover resources available to our donor families for honoring loved ones who shared the gift of life.

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Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

Posted on: May 22nd, 2024

PUTTING LIFE ON HOLD

Sejal Patel

“Every day you wake up and you’re like, ‘Is today going to be the day?’”

Sejal Patel waited a year for a kidney and pancreas. Ten years later, her donated kidney began to fail, and she was placed on the waiting list for a second time.

Having gone through the transplant process twice, Sejal has put her life on hold for nearly four years of her life.

Read more on Sejal’s story and how a new tool gets the right kidney to the right patient at the right time: How Offer Filters will help more kidney patients, faster.

Celebrating AAPI Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Throughout May we recognize those waiting for a lifesaving transplant, selfless donors who have given the gift of life and the contributions to the world of donation within, and from, this community.

SEMINAL LEADERSHIP

Dr. Harini Chakerra is a transplant nephrologist and the medical director of the Pancreas Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Her areas of expertise include determination of eligibility for kidney and pancreas transplant, providing complex coordination and management for patients after kidney and pancreas transplant and promoting a patient’s understanding of their disease and empowering them to become partners in managing their health. She was responsible for transforming the internal medicine resident rotation in nephrology. 

Dr. Harini Chakerra

Additionally, she was instrumental in the founding of two fellowships (General Nephrology and Transplant Nephrology) and was the founding leader for the renal block, Mayo Medical School in Arizona. She provides mentorship to several residents and fellows.

Dr. Chakerra has been a seminal leader in elucidating the mechanisms and consequences of metabolic disease post-transplant.

The Numbers

Currently, there are more than 10,000 people within the AAPI community on the national transplant waiting list, 161 that reside in Arizona*. In 2023, 487 people from this community gave the gift of life through both deceased and living donation* in the U.S.   

Transplants can be successful regardless of the ethnicity of the donor and recipient. However, the chance of longer-term success may be greater if the donor and recipient are closely matched in terms of their shared genetic background for most organs.  

*Data as of May 17, 2024.  

A Generous Hero

Ayla and Ezekiel Kong, donor children

A generous and friendly person, David Kong valued his family and his faith. The generosity that permeated every element of his life also resulted in him registering as an organ and tissue donor. He even talked to his older children about donation when they turned 16 and got their driver’s licenses.

In November 2021, David tragically passed from a ruptured brain aneurysm. He went on to save and heal lives through the donation of his kidneys, corneas, heart valves and skin tissue.

“When he was able to donate, my heart was breaking at losing him, but I was glad to help prevent another family from the heartbreak we’re experiencing,” says Kendra Kong, David’s wife.

“I always wanted to donate, but it was an obscure thing to me before. However, going through the process, and seeing how much they did for us to honor David at his death, I encourage others to give the gift of life,” she says.

You Can Help

Together, we can save and improve the quality of life in diverse communities.  Register as an organ and tissue donor today at www.DonateLifeAZ.org

Beyond the Call: Celebrating National EMS Week

Posted on: May 16th, 2024

HEROISM IN LIFE AND BEYOND

Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Tyler James Edenhofer responded to 911 calls after someone threw rocks at cars on I-10 in Phoenix. He passed away after being shot. In his final days of training, and recently engaged, Tyler died at 24.

Tyler was kind and caring and always had a desire to help. He showcased that as a Navy veteran, in his short tenure as a trooper, as well as having registered as an organ and tissue donor.

Tyler Edenhofer, donor hero

Two women in Arizona regained their vision through Tyler’s corneas. Both can now take in the desert sunsets or see their loved ones’ smiles. Tyler also donated different types of tissues that helped roughly 20 more people to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

“I know Tyler was proud to donate,” his mother says. “Gone way too soon, he had so much more to give.”

HONORING EMS HEROES

May 19 – 25, we recognize National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. As this week unfolds, let’s take a moment to recognize the unwavering dedication and courage of our EMS professionals. These individuals serve as first responders in times of crisis and deserve to be recognized and celebrated. 

What is an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Profession? There is a broad range of careers that are categorized as an EMS profession, but it all boils down to providing immediate medical care in emergency situations. Some, but not all, of these professions include:

  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
  • Paramedics
  • Medics
  • Emergency medical dispatchers
  • Flight nurses
  • Police officers
  • Fire fighters
  • Emergency nurses
  • Emergency physicians

RECOGNIZING ARIZONA EMS HEROES

On Wednesday, May 8, Donor Network of Arizona (DNA) took a moment to celebrate Arizona EMS professionals alongside Banner  University Medical Center Phoenix (B-UMCP).

Vikki Burdine, donor mother

Vikki Burdine, the mother of donor hero Jaimy Burdine, joined the celebration and shared her daughter’s story. Jaimy was a fearless and devoted mother of two kids. While on a horse cart ride with her son and mother, the horse began to run uncontrollably.

Jaimy made the brave decision to jump backwards from the cart with her son in her arms, saving her son’s life. However, Jaimy landed on her back and hit her head on the ground, suffering a devasting brain injury. The paramedics did everything they could to save her, but her story didn’t end there. Jaimy went on to save and heal others through organ and tissue donation.

EMS professionals were recognized for the roles they play in stories like Jaimy’s. In fact, first responders were involved in 856* cases that resulted in organ and tissue donation in Arizona in 2023. Together, DNA and B-UMCP presented awards to:

  • Tolleson Police Department
  • Phoenix Police Department
  • Phoenix Fire B Shift – Engine 40 and Rescue 40
  • Phoenix Fire B Shift – Engine 21 and Rescue 21
  • Phoenix Fire A Shift – Engine 6 and Rescue 3
  • Banner Air 4

*Some cases may be counted more than once if multiple agencies responded.

CHANGING THE NARRATIVE

It’s a common misconception that EMS professionals will not work as hard to save your life if you are a registered organ and tissue donor. This is FALSE.

In an emergency, physicians, nurses and other EMS workers don’t have time to even check a patient’s name—let alone their donation registration status, assuming it’s even shown on their ID. (Not all registered donors have the donor heart insignia on their identification.) EMS professionals still work hard and swiftly to stabilize a patient. That’s it.

Learn more about registration status and the process of organ donation in Why doctors WILL NOT let you die if you’re a registered organ donor.

THANK YOU

To all of our EMS professionals: Thank you! We work in partnership with you and your dedication to saving and healing lives does not go unnoticed.

The tummy angel

Posted on: April 30th, 2024

Valen Krasnov was just 3 years old when his parents learned he was in liver failure. He needed a transplant. The shocking news came after Valen and his father, Zaccarri Krasnov, went on a camping trip and noticed Valen’s eyes were almost completely yellow—jaundiced. He was admitted into the hospital in June 2021.

“We really thought we would bring him to the hospital, get some medicine and go home,” says his mother, Kelsey Krasnov. Luckily, Valen matched and received a transplant within 12 hours of being put on the transplant list, an indication of just how sick he truly was.

They call his donor the “tummy angel” and are always thinking of ways to celebrate the donor and make sure they are remembered.

“They have given us two more years with our son and for that we are forever thankful,” Kelsey says.

register today

You can help provide hope to the 103,000 people on the national organ waiting list. Register as an organ and tissue donor today at www.DonateLifeAZ.org

Ending the pediatric waiting list

Posted on: April 22nd, 2024

LOVE COMES FROM THE (DONATED) HEART

Malaya Soares, 5, has been through more than many will experience in their entire lives. She was born with a heart condition that prevented proper blood flow called dilated cardiomyopathy.

“It turns out we have the same exact mutated gene,” says heart recipient and Soares’ mother, Mia Welch, about their identical diagnoses.

The team at Phoenix Children’s was able to stabilize Soares in an emergency and eventually added her to the national organ waiting list for a new heart. 

“She was listed for transplant for 14 days,” Welch says, the longest two weeks of her life.

Further tightening the mother-daughter bond, Soares got her donated heart on the birthday of Welch’s own heart donor. After her donation, Soares had post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). Essentially cancer, PTLD is a life-threatening complication after a transplant. But with a sparkly tiara, a bright smile and a personality to match, Soares has a new heart and is now cancer free.

IT’S NATIONAL PEDIATRIC TRANSPLANT WEEK

Did you know? There are more than 2,100 children under the age of 18 on the national transplant waiting list, and 27% of them are under five years old.

This week, April 21-27, is National Pediatric Transplant week. This initiative serves to end the pediatric transplant list for the 2,100+ waiting, and honor pediatric donors and their families.

HIS ENERGY LIVES ON …

A talented baseball player, a son and a friend to many, Dylan Barrier always knew how to light up a room. At just 18 years old, he gave the gift of life and healing to six others after a tragic skateboarding accident.

“I’m really pleased that he decided to donate his organs so that other people could live and have a chance at life,” says his mother, Stephanie Barrier.

Dylan was always a daredevil, looking for excitement in everyday situations. 

His energetic and generous spirit will live on in his family and all those who hear his story.

Stephanie has a message to Dylan’s recipients and their families: “I’m really happy for you and your family. I’m really sad that I lost my son, but I’m really thankful that you guys will get another chance at life with your family. Most of all, just enjoy life, enjoy every moment of it.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The first thing you can do to help end the pediatric transplant waiting list is to register as an organ and tissue donor. You can register as young as 15 ½  in the state of Arizona. Register online today at www.DonateLifeAZ.org or at an ADOT MVD or select third-party office when you get your driver license or state ID.

There’s lots more to learn about pediatric organ and tissue donation. To learn more about the causes and need of pediatric transplantation, how the pediatric transplant waiting list works and more, visit www.DonateLife.net

Donors are superstars!

Posted on: April 15th, 2024

Did you know that April is National Donate Life Month? This annual recognition was established by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003. Through the efforts of Donate Life affiliated organizations, health care partners, participating community organizations and people like you, we aim to encourage everyone to register as organ and tissue donors and to honor those who have saved and healed lives through the gift of donation.

This year, it is Donor Network of Arizona (DNA)’s goal to have …

170 Participating Organizations

500 New Registrations

1000 Total Registrations & Affirmations

A gentle Giant

“Darrell was a tall, gentle giant,” says donor wife, Michelle Yoon. Darrell Boito loved to fix things, including cars, and shared special moments with their young daughter when she tagged along. He enjoyed watching baseball—his favorite team being the Arizona Diamondbacks—and family outings to the zoo and park.

In June 2023, Boito passed away after a brain aneurysm. 

He was able to donate his liver, heart, kidneys and corneas. His passing left the family devastated, but they are thankful for the last Father’s Day weekend they spent together.

The family also finds comfort in knowing that their loved one helped others after his passing. Yoon can picture Boito saying, “That’s pretty cool!” if he could see how many lives he saved and healed.

National Donate Life Month is all about honoring selfless donors like Boito.

“If you are able to help through donation, please don’t hesitate and register to be a donor!” Yoon says.

HOW YOU CAN CELEBRATE

You can help us reach our goals! Spread the word about organ and tissue donation using various downloadable resources like a Donate Life Month branded poster, email footer, zoom background, TV slides and a social media kit at www.DonateLifeMonthAZ.org.

Giveaway alert! If you post about Donate Life Month on social media, you have the chance to win an Arizona Diamondback’s hat. Be sure to tag @DonateLifeAZ and use the hashtag #DonateLifeMonth to be entered in the drawing.

Donate Life Arizona will also attend various events like flag-raising ceremonies, registration tables and other community events! If you are interested in becoming involved, sign up to be a volunteer here. There’s no better time than April!

IT’S ALL ABOUT REGISTERING

This month is all about encouraging people to register as organ and tissue donors. Each registration is a selfless declaration of one’s decision to save and heal others.

Are you registered? Not sure? You don’t have to wait. Register online (now or again) at www.DonateLifeAZ.org and share your decision with family and friends.

Generosity lives on

Posted on: March 26th, 2024

“David Andrew was the most thoughtful, kind and helpful person you would have ever met. He constantly brought smiles to those around him,” says Brandy, his girlfriend.

Van Gorder family

In August 2022, he suffered an asthma attack that severely injured his brain. Twelve days after the injury, Andrew went on to donate his kidneys, bone marrow, tissue and corneas.

Though Andrew passed in 2022, the Van Gorder’s journey with organ donation began in 2016. His father, David Van Gorder, was diagnosed with stage 4 liver failure and was later listed for a liver and kidney transplant. 

Shortly after his father’s diagnosis, Andrew registered as an organ donor.

“The gift of donation and life is the one thing that brings us all some comfort,” says Bonnie Van Gorder, his mother. “He was always extremely generous, and this is very fitting for him to continue to give everything he had.”

Make the generous choice

You can save and heal lives too. Register as an organ and tissue donor today at www.DonateLifeAZ.org

From table to table and heart to heart

Posted on: March 7th, 2024

Food is powerful! It is a language that speaks to the heart and soul and brings people together. Through the kindness of our donor families who have so thoughtfully shared their loved one’s stories and special recipes with us, Recipes of Remembrance has become the plate upon which the power of generosity and food are served.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him … the people who give you their food give you their heart.” – Caesar Chavez

PASSING THE PLATE

On Wednesday, Feb. 28th, the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (ADOT MVD) Tucson East Office held a “Donor Day” inspired potluck. Staff members cooked recipes from the Recipes of Remembrance cookbook to share with one another. What a beautiful way to see organ donation and registration come full circle!

DRIVING REGISTRATIONS

More than 95% of Arizonans currently registered as an organ and tissue donor made their decision while visiting an MVD or authorized third-party services office. Arizona’s driver license partners truly “drive” registrations, and we are grateful to see their dedication to honoring those who have made the decision to share the gift of life!

JOIN US

Help us honor and remember our donor heroes by cooking a recipe from our annual Recipes of Remembrance cookbook. We encourage you to share the recipes you have made on social media with the hashtag #RecipesofRemembrance so we can all share those memories together.

Find recipes for breakfast, starters, soup and chili, main dishes, sides and treats below. Click here see past copies of the Recipes of Remembrance cookbook. 

6 reasons to register as an organ and tissue donor

Posted on: February 21st, 2024

1. You could save and heal up to 75 lives.

Just one donor has the potential to save eight lives through organ donation and restore up to 75 more through tissue donation. Organ donors can restore health and extend the lives of those whose heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys and/or small intestines fail. Tissue donors help by restoring sight, preventing limb amputation, healing burn victims, repairing bone, tendon and ligament damage after trauma and much more.   

2. More than 103,000* people in the United States are waiting for an organ transplant.

The need for organ donation in the United States and Arizona is high. For most, it is the difference of life or death. The generosity of your decision could help save lives and build a symbol of hope.  

Read more about the national organ transplant list with United Network for Organ Sharing here 

3. It becomes a part of your legacy.

The legacy of those who have given the gift of life and healing live on in the people they helped and the communities that surround each recipient. This final, honorable decision speaks volumes to a person’s character. It’s choosing to be a hero—an act that cannot be forgotten. Sign up today!

4. Major religious and spiritual groups support it.

No major religious or spiritual groups oppose organ and tissue donation, rather viewing it as a gift of life to a fellow human being. Specific beliefs differ between denominations, but the common theme is that organ and tissue donation is one of the highest forms of love and support for those in need. 

Click here for more information on how specific religions view organ and tissue donation.  

5. Organ and tissue donation has a ripple effect.

The person on the receiving end of these gifts isn’t the only one whose life is impacted. These gifts provide healing to the family, friends and community of those waiting. A donation doesn’t just save a person, it saves a whole family 

6. It’s the generous decision.

Those who have made the decision to share life have made the most generous choice of all–one they might never see the impact of. It’s a gift that costs nothing too offer but has the power to transform lives.  

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

The decision to register as an organ and tissue donor is to make the choice to share life. You can register online as an organ and tissue as early as today. Sign up at www.DonateLifeAZ.org 

*Data as of Jan. 23, 2024   

Celebrating Black History Month

Posted on: February 7th, 2024

In February, we celebrate and honor Black History Month. Throughout the month, and for the remainder of the year, we will continue to recognize the Black and African American communities by highlighting their contributions to donation and transplantation in Arizona.  

Black communities have a statistically higher risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. According to the National Kidney Foundation, African Americans are 4 times as likely than other groups to develop kidney failure. Black and African Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, while representing 28% of the national organ transplant waiting list. These higher rates of kidney disease can lead to the potential need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. 

In 2023, organ donors saved the lives of 105 Black or African American people. Thank you to all our donor families, transplant families and volunteers for your help in saving, healing and supporting your communities. 

Saving the Life of a Lifesaver

(l) Alex Jamison and (r) Dr. Dana Jamison

Experienced in both orthopedic and trauma surgery, Dr. Dana Jamison also believes in the power of saying yes to donation. 

“If you asked me when I was 17 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have said I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon who took care of a professional team,” she says. 

A lifesaver and healer in her own right, Dana traveled to West Africa on surgical missions. She suspects she caught an illness during one of those trips, which caused a rare kidney disorder back in 2000.  

Her husband, Alex Jamison, saved her life when he donated his kidney to her as a living donor. Because of his loving offer, she continues to heal people through her skillful practice as an orthopedic surgeon. 

Together we can help

By having the power of saying yes to donation, we can honor and improve the lives of our Black communities together.  

Join the DonateLifeAZ Registry when you apply for or renew a driver’s license or state ID at an ADOT MVD office. You can also register online at DonateLifeAZ.org.  

A second second-chance

Posted on: January 23rd, 2024
Kenneth Robinson (l) and Linda Robinson (r)

“I never had a solid diagnosis as to why my kidneys failed at the age of 26,” Linda Robinson says, though it didn’t entirely matter why she had kidney issues for 14 years. It came down to needing a transplant to stay alive.

Robinson’s father stepped up to the plate as a living donor, and she underwent a transplant surgery. Almost three decades later, a bout with COVID-19 damaged that same gifted kidney and put her on the waiting list again.

“I have been on hemodialysis since June 2022 and have had to put most of our travel plans and activities on hold,” Robinson says. “I do hemodialysis three days a week, three and a half hours a day. This is my life now.” 

She hopes another donor will come through. 

“When that happens, we will be able to travel to visit my elderly parents, our son, his wife and our three granddaughters.”

you can help

You can help provide hope to people like Linda. Registering to be a donor can help so many people who are awaiting a transplant, and lives are changed every day thanks to those who have registered. 

Register today at www.DonateLifeAZ.org

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