Kentucky mom celebrates 30 years of life thanks to organ donation

KY CIRCUIT COURT CLERKS

News release

Kathy Anderson’s heart was severely damaged by medicine she was prescribed while pregnant with twin girls. The damage wasn’t evident until after her daughters were born. Within a couple weeks, she was given only a slim chance of survival.  Her doctors knew her only option was a heart transplant.  This was in March of 1987.

National Donate Life Month is celebrated each April to bring much needed attention to healing lives through organ, tissue, cornea and living donation. Through the entire year, Kentucky’s Circuit Clerks are dedicated to providing education and registering Kentuckians as organ donors while obtaining a license or ID.  April, especially this year to Kathy’s family, holds particular significance.

“I am so blessed to have been able to see my twin daughters grow up,” says Kathy today.  In April of 1987, Kathy received her gift of life and in addition to raising her daughters enjoys 5 grandchildren.  “For the most part I am as healthy, or moreso, as most 50-year-olds. I hit the ground running and stay busy,”.  She works in accounting in Meade County and is celebrating life 30 years since her heart transplant.

Anderson understands organ donation both as a recipient and as a donor family member.  Her brother Kevin died in 2010 and was able to be an organ donor, “My experience has been full circle. I definitely understand both sides.” 

Each year, Donate Life America creates artwork for National Donate Life Month that illustrates the power of donation from all sides. The 2017 art uses pinwheels to tell the donation story. Pinwheels capture and pass on energy. Each Donate Life pinwheel has four sails supported by one stem. The one stem symbolizes the power of one person to save and heal lives through donation. The four sails represent organ, tissue, cornea and living donation, the four ways one person can save and heal more than 75 lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.

“The image of the pinwheel reminds us that we all have the potential power to save and heal lives. This April, we encourage you to watch the pinwheels transform the breeze into colorful motion.  Think of the lives transformed by donation and transplantation and register to be a donor,” says Boyle Co. Circuit Clerk, Cortney Shewmaker.  “Stories like Kathy’s remind us why we ask every person to join the Registry and donate a dollar for education at our driver’s license office.  Transplantation is a miracle.”

In Kentucky, everyone can register your decision to be an organ donor and save people like Kathy.  Regardless of age or medical history, everyone can say ‘yes’ at your Circuit Clerk’s office or join today at www.donatelifeky.org.

Kathy’s daughter, Kristin Dossett wrote a letter to her donor family including, “Thank you for letting me experience life with the person who was there to take me to kindergarten, who put on my makeup for my first middle school dance, who taught me how to do laundry before I went to college, who watched me walk down the aisle.  Thank you for giving me Mom, who now gets to hold five grand babies. Thank you for giving them Nana.  I’m so sorry for your loss, but in the midst of that horrible situation, you gave us an invaluable gift.  I want you to know that his life and death were not in vain. I want you to know that he is one of our greatest blessings.  I want you to know that his heart is still beating.”

Currently, 53 percent of the Kentucky adult population are registered organ, eye and tissue donors. Yet the number of people in need of transplants continues to outpace the number of organs donated. More than 118,000* people are waiting for a transplant and a second chance at life. On average, 22 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time. That is almost one person dying every hour.  Registering your decision to become a donor is the most effective way to save lives through donation and is a symbol of support to those who continue to wait.

*Data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) as of March 30, 2017