WVU Medicine and Donate Life West Virginia raised a ceremonial flag Friday morning at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
“We are here today to celebrate National Donate Life month, to recognize the importance of organ donation, and to celebrate the lives that are saved by organ donation each and every day,” said Albert Wright, WVU Medicine President & CEO.
Several speakers stood up and talked about the process of organ donation, including Debbie Stonestreet, who lost her son Michael in a fatal motorcycle accident at the age of 25.
Michael decided at age 14 that he would be an organ donor, Stonestreet said, so when he became brain dead, the process of donating his organs began.
Three of Michael’s organs were transplanted into needy recipients. Stonestreet said she has been able to see the results of her son’s gift of life, especially in a 20-year-old woman who received his kidney.
“We’ve been able to see her progress through her life,” Stonestreet said. “I mean we’ve seen her graduate college, get her first job, get married, have a family, and that means a lot because we know that Michael has been a part of that.”
Former Pittsburgh Pirate Kent Tekulve was on the receiving end of an organ donation after getting a new heart just a few years ago.
“I wouldn’t be here right now talking to you if it wasn’t for that transplant,” Tekulve said. “That organ donor changed my life.”
Tekulve said more people should consider giving the gift of life through organ donation.
“Since I’ve been transplanted two and a half years ago, I’ve met three grandchildren that I would have never met,” Tekulve said. “There are three grandchildren that would have never known their grandfather, and those are the things, if you start thinking about that, that show how important organ donation is by giving someone else either a better form of life or an extended form of life.”