Commerce Township woman finds passion in organ, tissue donation advocacy
A desire to help others has turned into a life passion for Cathy Warren.
Warren, 57, of Commerce Township, started working for the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan in January 2003 to transition back into the workforce and help a good cause.
At the time, her family had not been touched by organ and tissue donation. Sadly, that did not last. Her father became ill that year and was told he needed a new kidney but, out of concern for his family, he would not allow them to get tested to see if they would be a good match for him. Although he did receive two calls while he was on the waiting list for a life-saving organ, both those kidneys went to patients with a greater need. He succumbed to his illness in 2005.
Warren said that experience has helped motivate her.
“My thought is, if anything I do can help just one other person see the benefit of signing up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry and potentially help somebody else, then I’ve saved another family from the pain that my family went through,” she said.
In the past 18 years, Warren has been an active advocate for Gift of Life Michigan, and organ and tissue donation in general. She helps plan the annual LIFEWalk event hosted by the Michigan chapter of the Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP), has led annual interfaith conferences called Bringing Organ Donation Awareness to Our Faith Communities, has helped organize a Guinness World Record-setting event that brought together the most heart transplant recipients ever in one room, and she’s co-coordinated comfort blanket making parties throughout Michigan – the most recent of which resulted in more than 300 blankets created by volunteers in Flint, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Southfield, and Detroit.
Warren is an energetic presence at nearly every important Gift of Life Michigan event, too, from press conferences to rallies at the capitol, Donate Life Day at the Secretary of State, and more.
“We are so appreciative of everything Cathy has done and so thankful that Gift of Life Michigan is one of the many organizations that touches her heart,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan.
Warren said she has never second-guessed her decision to get involved and still enjoys the work nearly two decades later.
“This community has really touched my heart,” she said. “It’s a matter of giving, and the resilience you see in people, and wanting to do something to help the community – that’s really what’s kept me in it. This has been the best 18 years. The people I’ve met and the things we’ve been able to do—you just can’t beat it.”
For more about the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, visit donatelifemichigan.org.