Justin Hoffman event highlights organ donations 2008.08.20

Written by David Green.


Geneva Ballard had never thought much about organ donations until her 18-year-old son, Justin Hoffman, lay in a hospital bed barely clinging to life following an automobile accident.

Justin’s condition didn’t look too promising and if worse comes to worst, Geneva thought, perhaps her son’s organs could be used to help others.justin.hoffman.event.jpg

She talked it over with her other son, Jeremy, and the decision was made. If Justin didn’t pull through, his shortened life would help extend others.

A year later, Geneva sees that decision as the best thing to come out of an unfortunate situation. If she had to face it again, she would certainly make the same choice a second time.

That’s what she told Tracy Kropp and Nancy Ellis of Life Connection of Ohio when they were in Morenci Saturday. Geneva invited the organ donation facilitators to set up a booth Saturday at a “celebration of life” in honor of Justin on the anniversary of his death.

The two representatives from Life Connection were delighted to hear Geneva’s positive response.

“I wanted some good to come out of a tragic time,” Geneva said.

There’s a lot of good to think about.

Two kidneys, a liver, a pancreas and small intestine were used from Justin, and 69 tissue grafts were taken, allowing patients to make use of his corneas, skin, cartilage, etc. So far, 35 of the various tissue grafts have been used, but they can be stored for five years. In total, dozens of people will have benefitted from Geneva’s decision.

She received a four-page letter from one organ recipient who expressed her thanks and told how she often thinks of Justin. She’s had contact several times with another recipient.

“That’s really rare,” Life Connection’s Nancy Ellis said. Most recipients don’t make the effort to contact a donor’s family.

Those contacts helped Geneva through some tough times. Occasionally, commemorative medallions, certificates and other items arrived in the mail from Life Connection or other sources to remind Geneva of the good that came from her family’s misfortune.

“In some of my darkest days, a medallion would arrive,” she said, reminding her of a gift of love passed on to others.

Variety of Applications

Organ and tissue donations from a healthy body can save or enhance the lives of more than 50 people.

Kidney and liver transplants are the most common procedures, but there are also people in need of other organs, including the pancreas, heart, lung and intestine.

A range of tissues can also be used to aid others, including bones, corneas, heart valves, skin, tendons and veins.

The use of donated tissue for transplantation is described by Donate Life Ohio as “one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine.”

A rib can be used in the repair of a jaw bone to restore facial appearance. The femur (leg) can be used in spinal repair to prevent bone collapse.

Achilles’ tendon can be used in rotator cuff repair. Connective tissue from the thigh can aid in tendon repair and restore a person’s independence.

The list of benefits is large and growing, however, the availability of donations lags far behind the need.

As of Aug. 1, there were 2,495 Michigan residents in need of a kidney transplant and nearly as many in Ohio. In Michigan, 298 people were in need of liver, a number that increases to 372 in Ohio.

The total number of patients awaiting transplants of various organs stands at 3,016 in Michigan and 2,873 in Ohio. Nationally, a new name is added to the waiting list about every 10 minutes.

Life Connection emphasizes five important facts that might concern potential donors:

• Donation does not restrict a normal funeral service;

• Medical treatment will not suffer if a person is listed as a donor;

• Families will neither pay nor receive payment for donations;

• Most major religions support donation and many openly encourage it.

• There are no firm age limits to serve as a donor. Medical staff evaluate each potential donor for suitability.

For additional information, call Gift of Life Michigan at 800/482-4811 or Life Connection of Ohio at 800/262-5443.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016