Changed for Good | Saving Lives in National Donate Life Month05/9/2019
Zoe Mar was a bright and bubbly teenager who loved singing, acting, socializing and the color pink. In 2017, the Ahwatukee girl suffered a brain aneurysm that caused irreversible damage. The loss was sudden, unexpected and devastating.
In the midst of overwhelming grief, Zoe’s parents, Bob and Trena Mar, made the selfless decision to donate Zoe’s organs, because it was “the right thing to do.”
Jovani Perez, 7, was one of four people who benefited from Zoe’s organs.
Jovani had been born with two small, low-functioning and underdeveloped kidneys. He was placed on the wait list just two weeks before his family got the call that there was a kidney available for him.
The Perez family knew nothing about the donor, but they wanted to say thank you.
“During the hardest time, they chose to give life,” says Amber Perez, Jovani’s mom.
The opportunity to give that thanks arose this April. The Mar family finally met Jovani, who wore a pink bow tie for the occasion. At Phoenix Children’s Hospital on April 9, Bob and Trena held a poster full of photographs of Zoe and shared stories about the bright, energetic teen with the Perez family.
“I guess parents are supposed to be the ones to give the joy and the love and all that, and you just don’t think it’s the child that’s giving it to us, but she just, she was our life,” says Trena. “Seeing [Jovani] run around and be the same bolt of energy Zoe was, it just fills a part of me that has been empty for a long time.”
Heroes for Hope
April is National Donate Life Month, and hospitals, health care organizations and donation supporters all over Arizona advocated for donation in collaboration with Heroes for Hope. Heroes for Hope is Donor Network of Arizona’s outreach campaign that joins together hospital, health care and emergency response organizations with the common goal to save and heal lives through organ, eye and tissue donor registration.
There are more than 2,100 people in Arizona waiting to receive a lifesaving transplant.
Collaboration among Arizona’s health care professionals to increase the number of registered donors on the DonateLifeAZ Registry can mean fewer deaths on the organ transplant waiting list and improved quality of life for those waiting to receive a tissue or cornea transplant. In total, Arizona health care partners helped more than 840 new individuals join the more than 3.6 million on the DonateLifeAZ Registry in April.
As part of Heroes for Hope, Phoenix Children’s Hospital hosted these two special families to help them tell their story of hope and healing through donation.
Flying Basset Brewing, a local brewery in Gilbert, thought outside the box, and offered a discount to customers who registered or showed the DONOR on their license. They helped more than 100 people register for the first time.
Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix also participated in the Heroes for Hope, bringing in more than 120 new registrations, and hosting tabling events, a flag-raising ceremony and a bike ride for National Blue and Green Day. Always eager to go above and beyond, they also shared countless stories of donation on their BUMCP4Hope Facebook page.
Krystal McCluney, a registered nurse at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, spoke to fellow health care professionals at the Heroes for Hope kickoff breakfast in March.
“We all possess an incredible super power within ourselves to help others,” says Krystal. “We can all make the choice to sign up and be a hero. It’s even more heroic to dedicate an entire month of your time to educating others and asking them to register as organ donors.
Donation has this incredible ripple effect: it does not just affect the recipient. It also affects their families, and generations afterwards. The stories influence complete strangers. And we cannot forget how it touches the families involved with such a heroic sacrifice.
I have seen donation first hand, many times. And every time it is raw and emotional, it is tragic and it is beautiful. Families are going through some of their darkest times, and donation brings a small glimmering light: that is the true super power of donation. It creates the promise of hope during a time of uncertainty and heartache. Remember that this April is about having fun, being creative, and changing lives. By being here today, you are dedicating yourself to educating our public and helping them to get excited about donation! You are true Heroes for Hope!”