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Nancy

“Knowing that my mom could provide an incredible gift, even in death, there was no inspiration needed. ‘No’ was not even an option – ever!”

It's so difficult losing a loved one, but for me, it's a comfort knowing that my mom was able to help others, and I know without a doubt she is smiling down.

Kathleen Smith may have been retired, but she was far from retiring! Her children, grandchildren, great-grandson, and Mocha (her dearest canine companion) were a constant source of joy, and she thrived on giving back to the people and places that shaped her life. Kathleen volunteered for the Red Cross and for Lake Hospitals Tri-Point gift shop, and she served on both the North Perry Planning Commission and the Perry Area Joint District Board. Then, in 2017, a massive heart attack changed everything, and Kathleen’s family and friends found themselves suddenly bereft of their loved one.

Sudden losses bring a host of unexpected decisions, among them the opportunity to heal and save other lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation. Nancy Platt, Kathleen’s daughter, was amazed to learn that her mother, despite not meeting medical criteria to donate organs, could still offer her eyes and tissue to transform the lives of people waiting on the transplant list. What would Kathleen want?

When asked what inspired her to say “yes” to donating her mother’s eyes and tissues, Nancy responded, “Knowing that my mom could provide an incredible gift, even in death, there was no inspiration needed. ‘No’ was not even an option – ever!”

While Nancy’s decision to authorize donation was easy, the months that came after were not. “I miss my mom so terribly,” she acknowledges, “and some days it’s just unbearable.” On particularly difficult days, Nancy takes time to reflect on her mother’s gifts and how they have changed lives. “Knowing that even in death she was able to provide others with such a profound gift, that makes me smile.” Additional comfort came in the form of mailings, emails, phone calls, event invitations, and support groups. “Lifebanc is simply awesome,” she adds. “I could not have gotten through these past months without them.”

With an example like Kathleen to emulate, Nancy chose to start giving back to her community in a new way. “Lifebanc was so gracious and caring. The lasting impression they left within me through the donation process was why I knew being an ambassador was something I wanted to do.” Lifebanc ambassadors give their time, talent, and treasure to increasing awareness about organ, eye, and tissue donation. The ambassador program is made up of living donors, recipients, donor and recipient families, and supporters who believe in a future in which the decision to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor is an honor, and everyone waiting receives a transplant. Lifebanc ambassadors are the backbone of the Lifebanc education programming. They share their personal donation stories and travel across northeast Ohio, educating people about the urgent need for registered organ, eye, and tissue donors. Nancy passionately advocates for donor registration, writing:

“Why shouldn't they register?! Being able to save a life, change a life, improve the quality of lives of others even after death, that's amazing to me! When I think about all the recipients, those waiting, those who lost their battle waiting, those whose lives have been changed forever by someone's gift, that's just so powerful to me. I can't imagine saying no [to] organ, eye, and tissue donation. It's so difficult losing a loved one, but for me, it's a comfort knowing that my mom was able to help others, and I know without a doubt she is smiling down.”

Kathleen’s eye and tissue donation goes far beyond healing and improving the lives of a few, select people. Her gift inspires her daughter’s advocacy, meaning the important message of donation will be shared with countless other individuals. One “yes” to donation can change innumerable lives!