Winchester Medical Center holds remembrance service for organ donors

WINCHESTER — Robbie Key has volunteered in hospital development for LifeNet Health ever since her daughter, Amanda, received a kidney transplant. The move to the nonprofit transplant provider, she said, came because of her experience dealing with the kidney transplant.

“I don’t want families to go through what ours did,” Key said. “So I just wanted to give back.”

In an annual remembrance service at Winchester Medical Center on Friday, Key and a number of other people told stories about life-saving transplants. Some of the people, like Key, told stories about receiving a transplant. Others told stories about loved ones who had given organs, skin or tissue after they died.

During the remembrance service, Key said that she had donated a kidney to her daughter in 1999, around the time she started volunteering for LifeNet.

The kidney was not a perfect match, though. By 2006, her daughter completely rejected the kidney.

“It was very, very rocky,” Key said.

Key’s daughter went onto the kidney transplant waiting list and stayed there for over 1,000 days. Then, about six years ago, her daughter received a kidney.

“It’s been a bumpy ride, but she’s alive today,” Key said.

Karen Herbert, meanwhile, was relatively healthy until she noticed one day that her legs were swollen. She didn’t think much about it but went to her doctor the next day.

Her health problems quickly got worse.

Soon after she went to her doctor, she was on the liver transplant list.

She received a liver two days after she was added to the transplant list –a sign of how bad her health status was. (People with more severe liver problems are given a priority to receive transplants.)

“I’m so grateful,” she said.

Herbert was again having a discussion about transplants a year ago. Her husband had recently died and she wanted to be able to give his kidney.

“We weren’t able to give his organs…but we were able to give his skin and tissues,” Herbert said.

Many of the people who spoke at the organ remembrance day–but not all–had family members whose organs were transplanted after their deaths. The majority of donations between January and October came from deceased donors, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

After the service ended, Valley Health and LifeNet placed ornaments on a tree inside Winchester Medical Center, honoring the people who had donated their organs. Melanie Lewis, staff chaplain for Valley Health, said that the ornaments will stay hanging in the hospital for the rest of the holiday season.