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Faith’s Story

Keeping Faith at the Holidays: Organ Donor, 25, Pays Life Forward

Faith lives on.

Faith Parsons
Faith Parsons

Her heart beats in the chest of a 48-year-old married woman with three children who waited nearly a year for an organ donor. Her lungs breathed life into a 61-year-old married mother of three who loves crocheting and computer games and spent three full years on a waiting list.

And a 56-year-old married father can look forward to the holidays, golfing and fishing with his three children thanks to a new liver from a young woman he never met.

University Hospitals Parma Medical Center recently lost a spunky, sweet dietary employee who passed away unexpectedly. But several grateful individuals gained new organs thanks to an important conversation 25-year-old Faith Parsons once had with her husband of just one year.

“If there’s anything positive to take from something so tragic, it’s giving life to someone else,” says Bill Parsons, whose wife influenced his own views on organ donation. “She was a part of helping me coming around fully to the idea.”

One organ donor can save and heal eight lives and enhance up to 50, according to Lifebanc, which coordinates organ donation for 80 hospitals, including the 18 within the UH system. Every 10 minutes a new name is added to the waiting list. In Northeast Ohio alone, more than 2,000 people are waiting.

Faith had no warning that her life would end. The Parma woman was taking a nap on the couch when her husband arrived home from work and realized she had stopped breathing. She never regained consciousness.

Focusing on giving renewed life to another human being can help a grieving family cope. UH Parma Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit staff and Lifebanc worked with the family on this important decision.

“Even with the best of technology and care, a person sometimes does not survive,” says Michelle Adams, RN, Manager of ICU Services. “You can still affect five to six people who live better and longer because of what we do. You can make a huge difference.”

Faith had more gifts to give. Her kidneys went to two different men, ages 38 and 56. Her bone, connective tissue, skin and corneas also were recovered for potential transplant, research or medical education. Organ donation is a complex, carefully orchestrated process that must occur within hours of a donor’s passing. University Hospitals Transplant Institute has decades of experience in transplant surgery at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

Lifebanc seeks to dispel common myths that patients cannot donate organs if they are too old or ill. Organ donation does not violate any religion, prevent a normal viewing of the body or interfere with any lifesaving measures that a family chooses.

“Families tell us sometimes it’s the only ray of sunshine in an otherwise tragic day,” says Jillian Frazier, Lifebanc’s Director of Development and Community Services. “This is another special way to honor a family member’s wishes to help save and heal lives.”

If you don’t have the little red heart on your driver’s license indicating your choice to be an organ donor, join the Ohio Donor Registry.