Heartfelt recollections of people whose lives have been saved by organ donations were told April 1 during Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer’s annual observance of National Donate Life Month. The program included remarks from Tom Gryzbek, hospital president; Linda Kraiko, senior director of patient services; Alice Jenkins, of the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network; and Michael Henderson, of the Indiana Lions Eye and Tissue Transplant Bank. The hospital partners with those agencies to facilitate organ, eye, tissue and stem cell donations.
Attendees heard testimonies from nurses Lori Clark, Gale Churitch and Claudia Chiaro, who told how organ donations saved their husbands’ lives. Churitch’s husband, Peter, shown singing with her at the event, was the recipient of a double lung transplant in 2006. Prior to the surgery, he experienced shortness of breath that resulted in difficulty walking and forcing him to quit singing in the church choir. Four days after his transplant surgery, he was singing a song from his favorite musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” The Rev. Henry Sequeira, chaplain, presided over the service and blessed Donate Life flags that will be displayed in the lobby of the hospital campus and that of the Hammond campus, 48 hours after every organ, eye or tissue donation.