‘It happened to me’

Tristan Johnson and his parents speaking at a podium

Transplant recipients tell their stories to 100 visitors at Gift of Life Michigan Community Open House

Rachel Kuntzsch speaks at the podium Both Rachel Kuntzsch and Tristan Johnson were healthy and active when their doctors delivered unimaginable diagnoses of life-threatening illnesses.

Both required immediate placement on the nation’s organ transplant waiting list, and both were on the receiving end of life-saving human kindness.

Rachel, of Lansing, and Tristan, of Portage, visited Gift of Life Michigan at the organization’s Check Your Heart Community Open House on August 3 to share their stories, moving many in the audience to tears.

Their inspiring stories are what Gift of Life Michigan works toward every single day, President and CEO Dorrie Dils told the packed conference center.

President & CEO Dorrie Dils at the podium in a packed conference center“It was incredibly moving to hear Tristan – a happy, healthy student-athlete – talk about how his kidney transplant saved his life and transformed his entire outlook,” Dils said. “And Rachel was so fortunate that a match was found quickly after sudden-onset heart failure nearly took her life.”

“We can’t thank them enough for being with us and giving us their ‘It can happen to anyone’ perspective.”

Dils added, “We are always excited to welcome the community to our Ann Arbor headquarters. The open house not only gave visitors a glimpse of our Donor Care Center and murals, but our guests were also able to understand the donation process and get an up-close view of what happens in our laboratory, where Michigan organ donors and their transplant recipients are matched.” Gift of Life is one of six organ procurement organizations in the nation to have a histocompatibility laboratory onsite.

Betsy Miner-Swartz shows the donor tribute mural to a group at Gift of LifeYoung boy tries on a pair of glasses that mimic the need for a cornea transplantGift of Life hosts an open house at least once a year, typically in August. Anyone wishing to see the headquarters for Michigan’s organ and tissue donation program is encouraged to email [email protected]. Gift of Life accommodates group tours any time of the year.


Read More Posts
More than 100 staff at Munson Medical Center gathered to celebrate their upcoming Hospital of the Year Award - many of them came in on their day off to join the celebration.

Munson Medical Center Named Hospital of the Year by Gift of Life Michigan

Munson’s John Stanifer, MD and ICU Manager, Eric Jean also to be recognized. Gift of…

Read More
children holding hands

Can a Living Person Donate a Liver?

The liver is an important organ. It filters toxins out of your blood. You can’t…

Read More

Can You Donate Your Placenta?

The placenta is a one-of-a-kind organ that plays a significant role in pregnancy. It assists…

Read More
A happy family

What Tissue can be Donated?

There are several tissues that one can donate to save lives. This includes cornea, tendons,…

Read More
Dr. Bedi, Rachel Kuntzsch and Sarah Scantamburlo are new Gift of Life Governing Board members

Gift of Life Michigan announces new board members

New board members will bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table Gift of Life…

Read More
2023 was a record year for Gift of Life Michigan with 578 organ donors and 1,858 tissue donors

Gift of Life Michigan smashes record for organ donors in 2023

More than 213,000 people join Donor Registry Gift of Life Michigan helped a record 578…

Read More
Scroll to Top