Organ Donor Recipients Share Personal Experiences, Meet Donor Families | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

Organ Donor Recipients Share Personal Experiences, Meet Donor Families

Play associated audio
Katy Penney, Katrina Penney and "Mr Fluffy" . Katrina received a heart transplant when she was 9 weeks old.
Kavitha Cardoza
Katy Penney, Katrina Penney and "Mr Fluffy" . Katrina received a heart transplant when she was 9 weeks old.

By Kavitha Cardoza

In the last two decades more than 5,000 people in the D.C. area have received organ transplants.

As part of organ donation month, local transplant patients are sharing personal experiences, and there's one delicate piece of the process: correspondence between donor families and recipients.

When Katrina Penney was nine weeks old she had a heart transplant. Cards to the donor's family went unanswered for six years. But every year Katrina would release three balloons: one red, one pink and one blue to commemorate what she calls her "heart day;" until recently, when she got a response.

"We found out it was a girl, Briana, so finally this year we sent up just two balloons--a red one for love and a pink one," says Penney.

John Ogden with the Washington Regional Transplant Community says just a small percentage of donors and recipients want to make contact.

"For the donor families, they've gone through such a tremendous loss," he says. "It's sometimes difficult for them to rehash the loss. And on the other hand for the recipients, who are alive today because someone has passed away. And for them it's a matter of survivor's guilt."

Katrina's mother Katy says she doesn't mind at all that the donor's family was silent for so long. She says she only thinks of them with one emotion: "unbelievable gratefulness."

"We're strangers to them," she says. "They had no obligation to us. And during such a sad time they had the opportunity to think of someone else."

In D.C., 34 percent of the adults are registered donors; in Maryland it's 46 percent and in Virginia it's 56 percent. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for organ donations.

NPR

Dressing Up As A T-Rex Is All Part Of The Job

Remember in Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo slices open the belly of a tauntaun so Luke can stay warm? That's not much different from how Eli Presser climbs into his T-Rex costume.
NPR

Plot To Poison Famed French Wine Makes For Gripping (Pinot) Noir

In Shadows in the Vineyard Maximillian Potter tells the true story of the legendary Romanée-Conti vineyard — and how it was held up for a 1 million euro ransom.
NPR

Congress Leaves Town Next Week, But Will Anyone Notice?

Next week is Congress's last before summer recess, which is often when a flurry of bills are pushed through Congress. This year, not so much, NPR's Ron Elving tells NPR's Scott Simon.
NPR

Tech Week: Industry Diversity, Digital Afterlives, Net Neutrality

The roundup: Twitter released a scorecard showing that its workforce is largely male and white. And what happens to our digital stuff after we log off for the last time?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.