We had the opportunity to visit and meet with the team of Life Sharing in San Diego, California. They are one of the four Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO) in California. They have an amazing passionate staff that works closely together to help educate people about organ donation. They also make sure the organs are connected from the donor to the recipient.
Life Sharing recently moved into a new location where they have a wall of inspiration that is lined with tree stalks and butterflies as the leaves. Each butterfly represents a donor or recipient. The wall signifies the transformation that occurs when one is given the gift of life. It is a beautiful sight and leaves an impression of hope on each person who passes by.
We then visited the campus of UC San Diego Health where we met with a transplant support group of 25 people. This was a very powerful experience. The 25 people who were in the room were a mix of transplant recipients, people waiting for a transplant, people who had a loved one who received a transplant and people whose loved ones were waiting for a transplant.
We lead a discussion on transplantation with our two Patient Ambassadors Amy Honeycut, a liver transplant recipient, and Jen Jossi, a two-time liver transplant recipient. These ladies did an amazing job informing the group of their stories and helping inspire them about life after transplant. Amy and Jen’s stories gave hope to all of the people in the room showing them that there is quality life after transplant and you are not limited to a hospital bed. Jen invited her daughter, Brooke, along with her. Brooke helps to raise awareness about organ donation when she is competing in pageants across the nation. Jen was able to give birth to Brooke post liver transplant! Brooke is Jen’s miracle baby and their story brought smiles to every single person in the room.
This was an amazing end to our West Coast Patient Ambassador Tour. There was a mutual exchanged of inspiration through everyone who was involved this past week. Transplantation not only gives people a second chance at life but it gives them a new sense of community and belonging which was amplified everywhere we went. We were able to experience California, specifically- how people are making a difference in their lives, their loved one’s lives, the lives of their community and the lives of complete strangers. Transplantation and organ donation affect more people than you realize. We challenge you to find someone you can enlighten to the impact organ donation has on our society. It will forever change your life.