Stories

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Colin Dean Cornett (Pete)

June 13, 1994 - July 12, 2012

Although Colin was closest to his brother Cody, he was always lending a helping hand to everyone, even strangers. Colin was considerate, caring, respectful, hard-working, honest and dependable. Everyone loved him, especially his niece, Gracie Faye! A remarkable young man who loved his life, Colin was known for his generosity, collecting pop-tabs for Riley’s Children’s Hospital, a caring act that will be continued by us, his parents.

It was an unimaginable tragedy to lose such a wonderful son this summer. Colin had gone across the field from our house and was hanging out with his girlfriend when the accident occurred; he remained unconscious and was declared brain dead the next afternoon. Our son was able to donate his organs, corneas and tissues, saving six lives and enhancing many others.

We all miss and love you forever Colin.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

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Misty

Some of my favorite sights are sunsets, my beloved dog, the ocean, and the precious faces of my nieces. In 2005, I thought I may never see these things again. One August morning I woke up with severe eye pain. After many doctor visits I found out that I had a very rare eye infection. My sight was getting worse each day and eventually the infection left behind a terrible scar on my cornea. The scar was so thick, it was like looking through heavily frosted glass.

This eye infection changed my entire life. I was once a thriving, independent twenty-something year old woman and this eye infection turned me into anything but that. I was now dependant on others for everything. Although I still had sight in my right eye, the lack of vision in my left eye caused many problems. I lost much of my depth perception and my eye was extremely sensitive to light. I wore a hat and sunglasses at all times and lived in the dark for over a year. My once impeccable balance from years of being a ballerina was suddenly very poor. I took many tumbles and falls and struggled with the simple everyday tasks that I once took for granted. The list of things I could no longer do went on and on. I couldn’t drive and I lost a job I enjoyed as well as my confidence. I felt helpless and was deeply depressed. My faith was under much stress and my family had to change their lives to take care of me. My only hope of getting my sight back was a cornea transplant.

Here is the dilemma with that. When I got my drivers license in high school, I signed the back and became an organ donor. I also read that I should discuss this with my family. I remember telling my parents, that if I were to pass away, I would want to live on by being an organ donor. However, I also told them I did not want to be a eye and tissue donor.

As you can imagine, I felt very undeserving of a cornea. I felt selfish and guilty. I couldn’t help but think that this is why I lost my sight, because I wasn’t willing to donate the gift of sight myself. It took many prayers to accept this and feel deserving. Finally, I promised that if I received a cornea I would try to encourage others to become organ and tissue donors.

On October 9, 2006, I received a new cornea! A gift that I will always be thankful for. My sight was restored and my vision was improving each day. Things started to get back to the way they used to be, but even better. I was now seeing life through a new perspective. I knew that because someone cared enough to give me their cornea that I needed to see life in a whole new light. I do my best not to take things for granted and try to appreciate all of the small things. Today, some of the most beautiful things are those that I never took the time to notice before I lost my sight. The circle of life is inevitable and organ and tissue donation can help so many people. Please decide to be an organ and tissue donor and sign the back of your driver’s license.

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John Gatz

On October 14, 2006, our son John, age 16, was killed in a head-on collision by a teenage drunk driver. Exactly four months before his death, John had passed his driving test and received his license. My wife, Kathy, will never forget the brief conversation that John had with the clerk at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. She had asked, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” John looked at Kathy and they both said simultaneously “why not”. John signed the paperwork with Kathy’s approval without thinking about it any further.

The shock and grief of losing a child is overwhelming. About two weeks after John’s death, we received a letter from the University of Louisville Lions Eye Bank telling us that John’s corneas had been donated to two young men. It was very comforting to us to receive this letter knowing that John’s corneas had benefited not only one, but two people.

Since John’s death, we have given talks to over 1,500 high school students in the Kentuckiana area about making good decisions and not drinking underage, and to all drivers not to drink and drive. We talk about John’s decision to be a donor and encourage them to do so as well. We tell the audience that a 15-year-old from Haubstadt, Indiana and 22-year-old Amish bricklayer have benefited from our son’s decision to donate. In our talk, we encourage these high school students to make good choices and to be positive. John’s gift to donate has given us comfort, knowing that he has enriched the lives of two people that had previously suffered from a visual handicap.

Sincerely,
Chris and Kathy

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Shay Christopher Fanase Jr.

May 22, 1988 - August 8, 2009

Shay was the perfect son and brother, a very giving person who lived life to the fullest. He was overtaken by nitrogen at his workplace on August 5, 2009 and declared brain dead three days later. He was 21 years old.

A hero is someone who gives their life so that others may live. Shay Jr. is a hero!

Parents are not supposed to bury their children, but God has a plan for all of us. Shay was not a registered organ, eye or tissue donor and although we had discussed the subject, we had misconceptions about the process. We now know what a wonderful gift donation is and making the choice to donate has helped the healing process, knowing others were saved and something good came out of such a tragedy. Shay was able to donate his heart, kidneys, liver, bones and his corneas.

Donating has made grieving for Shay a bittersweet journey. His story has touched so many people.
Get the facts and talk to your family about donation.
Let them know your wishes.

We love and miss you Shay,
Dad, Mom & Nicole

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Dennis Gary Bucksar

September 2, 1955 - September 25, 2009

Dennis was a good man who believed in hard work and helping others. He was always ready to help anyone. He would give the shirt off his back to someone in need. This is why we decided he would want to donate his organs. We will always miss him.

This donation makes us feel better knowing we helped him do something to help others. He was a true blessing to us and we hope for him to continue to be a blessing to others who are helped by his donation.

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Tracy Miles

Tracy began to lose the sight in her left eye at an early age due to a corneal ulcer. The pain that she felt never broke her spirits and she truly believed that she would be able to see again. After her transplant she was able to do the simple things in life such as watching a sunset or tending to her home’s needs. Through the gift cornea donation the light of the world again shines in her eyes. Tracy will never forget the generosity that her donor family showed during their time of tragedy.

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Wendell Barnett

Wendell, a family oriented man who is the sole caregiver for his 86 year old mother, lost his sight in his right eye because of corneal blindness. When Wendell began to lose his sight he was unable to keep his job of 10 years. His blindness affected his ability to not only care for himself, but for his mother as well. It was through the generosity of a donor family that Wendell was able to have a second chance at sight and to again care for his aging mother.

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Ms. Carolyn Ann Shelton Tidwell

March 11, 1946 - January 30, 2012

Carolyn was a very special lady who was always there for you if you needed a helping hand. She meant so much to so many. Her loving family extended beyond her children, her brothers and sisters, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. She loved people, and people loved her. Her favorite saying was, “it is what it is.”

Even in death her legacy of helping others continued. She gave life to people she would never meet through the gift of organ donation. She gave the gift of sight to two people whom she would never know. This world’s loss is heaven’s gain. Carolyn will always live on in our hearts and minds. We love and miss you.