Emotional Event Kicks Off Donate Life Month at UPMC

By: Martin Kinnunen

Amid tears of gratitude and hugs of thanks, organ recipients, families whose loved ones became organ donors, and other speakers helped UPMC launch National Donate Life Month, which is observed throughout April. 
On April 1, UPMC hospitals throughout the region held ceremonies to raise Donate Life flags and promote awareness about the importance of signing up as a voluntary organ donor. The ceremony at UPMC Montefiore became especially emotional when Malinda Sherid of Westmoreland County spoke.

In February 2001, Sherid drove to pick up her daughter, Kim, at Greensburg Salem High School, where she was an honors student who participated in yearbook, volleyball, dance and a host of other activities. Their car hit a patch of black ice and was struck broadside by a school van. At the hospital, where she was being treated for a concussion, Sherid learned Kim had suffered severe head injuries and would not survive. Kim had registered as an organ donor when she received her driver’s license. Sherid remembered Kim telling her, “Mom, if it can help someone. That’s what I want to do.”

Sherid said her daughter’s organs have helped many. Kim’s liver went to a woman in the Philadelphia area. One kidney was transplanted into a resident of Ohio, who then gained the strength to return to college. Kim’s other kidney went to New Jersey, while her heart valves were used to save lives in Georgia and Virginia. Knowing that her daughter’s selflessness gave others a second chance at life helped the mother deal with her own overwhelming sense of loss and grief.

Sherid thanked the physicians, nurses, and other staff members in UPMC Transplant Services and representatives of the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) for their efforts to encourage organ donation. “As a donor mom, I applaud you,” she said.

Other speakers included John Innocenti, president, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, who noted more than 121,000 people in the United States are in need of a transplant, and of those, 8,400 are right here in Pennsylvania. 

“Our work is not done,” said Innocenti, adding that UPMC, working in partnership with CORE, is committed to increasing the number of people willing to give the gift of becoming an organ donor.

Review the UPMC Donate Life Event flier to learn about other events being held at UPMC during Donate Life Month.

Are you a registered organ donor? Sign a donor card today and give the gift of life. Join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter and #MakeThePledge.