Gift of Life Michigan Blog
Nancy Banks was just finishing up a dialysis treatment when her phone started to ring.
She didn’t recognize the number and was going to ignore it because the clinic had a strict no-calls policy. A staff member had a feeling about the 800-number, however, and advised her to answer. When she did, she received some of the best news of her life: a donor had generously gifted a kidney and it was a good match for her.
Sarah Ann Scantamburlo has learned to live life to the fullest and make the most of whatever circumstances fate throws her way.
“I feel like so many people wait for tomorrow, what they deem as the perfect opportunity,” said Scantamburlo, a Novi resident. “But how do you know? Once it’s gone, it’s gone. There is no do over.”
Shane Sena was dedicated to his family and friends and enjoyed working on cars.
“He was a big brother and a little brother. He was loved by his siblings. He doted on them,” said his mother, Marie. “He was very protective of them.”
Sometimes, life throws you a curveball.
Mohamed El-Souri knows this better than most people. The 18-year-old Dearborn resident was a healthy, active teen who fell very ill while he was in high school. Doctors initially diagnosed him with pneumonia, but it turned out there was nothing wrong with his lungs – his heart was failing and he needed a new one.
Rebecca Anderson has been able to watch her daughter get married, graduate from Michigan State University and earn a master’s degree. She has traveled to the Mediterranean and celebrated her 30th anniversary with her husband, Rex.
Heather Luchies had long known she would need a kidney transplant. Fortunately, when the time came, a donor was closer than she had anticipated. In fact, she had married him nearly two decades earlier.
Katy Rozman has a message for young transplant recipients or young people waiting for a new life-saving organ: you are not alone.
“Sometimes all we need is someone to relate to and I don't always think that's available – especially for transplant kids,” she said.
Murphy Ainsworth was always fit, healthy and active – an energetic athlete who is remembered by family and friends as positive and carefree, with an easy-going smile.
“He was really loved by everybody,” said his father, Tom. “He took the best of me and his mother. You really couldn’t have asked for a better kid. I’m proud of everything he did.”
Aimee Cruz would be the first person to tell you she’s lucky to be alive. Originally from Puerto Rico, the Ann Arbor resident has had three liver transplants in her life and is grateful for every day.
Leah Howell celebrates two birthdays on the same day every year. One is hers, the other is her donated kidney, which she received the day after her birthday more than 16 years ago. She named her ultimate gift “Joey.”
“I’m not really sure where the name came from,” she said. “I think I was joking one day and referred to him by name. Ever since then, Joey gets birthday cards. He’s part of the family.”