The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Event honors organ donors, recipients

Organ donors and recipients spread awareness about organ donation and transplant.

By Jason [email protected]

Emotions ran high as two speakers told their organ-donation stories on April 21.The message behind the stories was simple — register as an organ donor to give someone a second chance.

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics held an annual event on April 21, called Gift of Life Ceremony, to recognize donors and recipients saved by organ donations.

In 2016, 215 patients donated corneas — 118 were for transplantation and 97 were for research purposes.

Gigi Robertson, a donor parent, told a story about her daughter, Tabatha.

On Aug. 17, 2015, Tabatha told Robertson she was going on a motorcycle ride with her husband, Levi. Tabitha planned to call her mother when she arrived home. However, when Robertson answered her phone, it was another woman’s voice asking if she was Tabatha’s mother.

“Right then and there, my heart sank,” she said. “She explained that Tabatha and Levi had been in an accident, and I should go to the hospital right away, and my emotions were a horrible roller-coaster ride.”

When they arrived at the hospital, doctors told Robertson that Tabatha was required to transfer to UIHC. Then, Levi passed away.

At the UIHC, the Iowa Donor Network explained to Robertson and her family about the option of donating Tabitha’s organs, because she was listed as an organ donor.

On Aug. 20, 2015, Tabatha passed away and became and organ tissue and eye donor.

Teresa Hafner, an organ recipient, spoke about her journey with heart failure. The problem was a life-changing experience for her family and her, she said, and the experience put her family through a rough patch.

She has been married to her high-school sweetheart, Mike, for 32 years and became a nurse in 2006. Her life goal was to have her own place and work with the elderly.

“In 2006, while working in a private home, I passed out,” she said.

Hafner’s coworkers performed CPR, and she later learned about her diagnosis with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.

Her condition declined when she had problems breathing while lying down. She found out she was diagnosed with heart failure, but she said she stayed strong and wanted to fight.

After much time passed, Hafner said she received a call from her doctor about the perfect heart for her, which belonged to Tabatha Smith.

“I got Tabatha’s heart on Aug. 22, 2015, and everybody said it went pretty well,” she said.

Her doctor said her heart was in bad shape, but adjusted to it quickly with medications and positive support.

Suzanne Witte, the coordinator of the Family Support Program, said she spotted Robertson at a candle-lighting service in honoring donors and asked her if she would like to speak with her daughter’s heart recipient.

“I hope the message to the audience is that donation and transplantation are life-changing for both the donor family and the recipient,” Witte said. “More people need to register and consider giving the gift of life when their life ends.”






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