Families of Organ Donors To Be Honored in Novi Sunday
The Gift of Life and Michigan Eye-Bank will say thank you to those who lost a loved one but saved another.
When Greg Romps' daughter, Dawn, passed away suddenly last year at the age of 45, he and his family were devastated. But they were able to find some hope in a decision that Dawn had made before she even found out about her brain aneurysm: to be an organ donor.
"It was so sad she was taken so young," Romps said. "But we all feel so wonderful that someone else had this opportunity at another chance at life."
Because of Dawn's decision, her family was able to donate multiple organs, including her kidneys, liver, bone and tissue to several recipients.
Now Dawn and her family will be honored at a special event on Sunday at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. More than 400 family members will be recognized by Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s organ and tissue recovery organization, and the Michigan Eye-Bank, which recovers, evaluates and distributes human eye tissue for transplantation.
Giving the Gift of Life
The Michigan Donor Family Gathering will salute the Michigan residents who saved and enhanced the lives of thousands of transplant recipients in the past year by donating their organs, eyes or tissues. This is the 20th year the organizations have hosted this celebration.
“Each year, we are honored to offer our sincere thanks to the donors’ loved ones and families. These donors are the true heroes. Through each decision to be a donor, the gifts of life and sight are being shared with numerous people across Michigan and the nation,” said Richard Pietroski, Gift of Life’s CEO, in a statement.
Romps, of Livonia, said that Dawn's decision to become an organ donor came after she saw her favorite uncle, who suffered from pulmonary disease, receive a lung.
"She just saw how great that was. The quality of his life returned, and she talked to all of us and said that we should consider being donors," Romps said.
Romps said his daughter was a friendly and helpful person who had a love for cars. She lived in Westland and worked at Bill Brown Ford. She was a divorced mother of a teenage daughter, whom Romps is now raising.
Currently, 3,061 Michigan patients are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, and more than 2.8 million Michigan residents have signed up to donate life.
"It's a great feeling knowing we helped prolong someone else's life or maybe help them return to a better quality of life where they can get up and enjoy themselves," Romps said.
Honoring the Donors
This year’s Michigan Donor Family Gathering event will be emceed by heart transplant recipient David Rozelle, of Kalamazoo, a Gift of Life Michigan Advisory Board member and retired Western Michigan University professor who received his gift of life 11 years ago.
Patrick Pruitt, of Ann Arbor, a cornea transplant recipient and a PhD student at the University of Michigan, will share how restoring his vision changed his life.
Participating donor families are invited to add quilt squares, personalized in honor of their loved ones, to a collection that currently includes 40 “Memories from Michigan” Donor Family Quilts. These tribute quilts are displayed at events around the state, emphasizing the personal stories behind every transplant.
Romps said he is looking forward to attending the event this year. He and his family also attended last year to honor his brother-in-law, who donated his eyes after he passed away a few years ago.
"We're looking forward to going this year because it's really a nice feeling to hear about how other families feel about donating and helping others. It's nice to hear the stories, and of course it's always nice for a recipient to get up and tell his story or her story," he said.
To join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry and receive a heart emblem for the front of your driver’s license or state ID card, visit giftoflifemichigan.org or call 800-482-4881.
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