Most drivers in Iowa have a “Y” on their driver’s license indicating that should a tragic accident occur, they would like to be organ, tissue and eye donors. The question about being a donor is asked at the Department of Motor Vehicles upon license application or renewal, a time when most are focused on getting through the process over a lunch break, a weekend day or otherwise busy schedule. Unfortunately, many don’t actually think about the impact of this decision and what it means to be an organ donor.

The Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Organ, Tissue and Eye Advisory Committee is proud to host Faces of Donation, an event for everyday people to learn about the impact of being a donor and what it means to mark “Yes” on a driver’s license. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held Thursday, April 18 at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. Doors will open at 6:30 PM, the program will start at 7 PM.

Two presenters, one from the Cedar Valley and another from the Des Moines area, will talk about their experiences with donation. The first speaker, Melanie Smith, received a donated cornea in 2003 after being declared legally blind due to a rare eye infection. At the time, she was a freshman student athlete on academic scholarship at Wartburg College. She graduated from Wartburg in 2006 and because of her transplant experience, returned to college in 2008 to pursue a degree in nursing. She is currently a nurse in Waterloo and is an active volunteer and spokesperson for the Iowa Lions Eye Bank.

Troy DeJoode, a Cedar Falls native, will speak about a tragic car accident in 2010 that took the lives of two of his three children: Carson, 5, and Claire, 5 months. Troy’s wife, Heather, was driving their three children in Ankeny, Iowa when a pickup ran a stop sign and collided with Heather’s van at a high rate of speed, putting her and the children in the hospital. While Heather was in a coma, Claire and Carson slowly lost the fight to survive. Troy was approached by the Iowa Donor Network to discuss donating the children’s organs. Because Troy said “yes” to donation, Claire’s heart went to a young boy in need of a transplant in Utah. Carson’s kidneys went to two women on daily dialysis, his liver went to another little boy and his corneas are helping an eight year old girl and a 40 year old man see.

Faces of Donation is made possible by a partnership between Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, the Iowa Lions Eye Bank and the Iowa Donor Network. This event is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Health Division of Behavioral Health Anatomical Gift Public Awareness and Donor Referral Program.

For more information, contact Dana Derflinger at 319-272-7330 or dana.derflinger@wfhc.org.