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

In This Test Kitchen, The Secret To A Great Cookbook Is Try, Try Again

Yotam Ottolenghi and his partner have a thriving food empire that includes wildly successful cookbooks. We go inside their London test kitchen as recipes are put through their paces.
NPR

Bugs: Not What's For Dinner — Until They're Tastier, Maybe

A U.K. researcher says the environmental argument for eating bugs isn't working on its own. She says chefs and policymakers must "make insect dishes appeal as food, not just a way to save the planet."
NPR

Fact Check: 3 Questions Answered About Bill Clinton's LLC

Does Bill Clinton have a secret corporation that he is using to hide money? Is it intended to pay a lower tax rate? Or is it something else entirely?
NPR

Questions Remain About How To Use Data From License Plate Scanners

The scanners are standard equipment for police, but what's not settled is what happens to all the data collected. That data can link people to certain addresses and flag unusual activity.

Leave a Comment

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