LSU grad student searching for organ donor's family who saved grandmother's life
CHATTANOOGA – For over a year, LSU grad student Danielle Kelley has been looking for the family who saved her grandmother’s life nearly 30 years ago.
Before Kelley was born, her grandmother, Debbie Newman received a double lung and heart transplant at a Houston hospital. The only information Kelley’s family received about the donor was that he was a young man living in the Chattanooga area who died around Sept. 21, 1987.
For the past year, Kelley told WRCB news that she has been looking for that man’s family to thank them in person.
“I want them to know that she lived for 19 more years after the transplant, that she would not have lived otherwise,” Kelley told WRCB. “I want them to know we are thankful for that.”
Kelley wrote this letter to the family she has not yet met:
Dear, sweet family. Dear, sweet mom and dad. Dear, sweet brother and sister. Dear, cousin and grandparent and uncle and aunt and friend. I never would have met my grandmother if it weren't for your boy.
I want to catch you up on Debbie's life. She was a young wife and mother of three at the time of the life-saving transplant. She not only survived the transplant, but she lived. She lived to see all three of her daughters graduate grow up and drive and go to prom and graduate high school and all those other milestones. She lived to see the birth of her first grandchild (me). She lived to love her husband. She lived to go to church. She lived to have fun. She lived.
She passed away ten days before my 13th birthday. But thanks to your decision, I loved her for 13 wonderful years. I can see her now, laughing and playing Twister and falling down without fear on Christmas morning with our family. I can see her now, in the kitchen frying squash. I can see her now, bent over her garden and planting gladiola bulbs in beautiful spring sunlight. I can see her now, behind the camcorder filming playful moments with her cocker spaniel, Tibby. I can see her now, looking me in the eye and telling me how much she loves me.
Dear, sweet, wonderful, generous and kind family. Thank you for the gift of life. My family is forever grateful. Your son died 29 years ago on or right before Sept. 21, 1987 in the Chattanooga area. I would like to see you face to face. I would like to show you pictures of my grandmother after the transplant. I would like to cook you some of her recipes. I would like to tell you stories. I would like to hear yours.
I would like to say thank you.
If you think you match this description, and you would like to meet me too, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to talk to you soon.