Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 10

Today, we bring you another chapter from our Illinois Donor Diaries with a submission from Nicole Matia, president of the newly formed chapter of Students for Organ Donation at North Central College in Naperville. Nicole’s chapter is also helping us out with our upcoming “I Am. Are you?” Campus Challenge. Nicole’s submission below serves as an excellent reminder of just how closely we are all tied (through friends of friends or someone we know) to organ/tissue donation.


Although I cannot say that I have experienced the need for or the result of organ donation or a lifesaving transplant firsthand, I can say that the issue has always been one that is close to my heart.

I never quite understood why my passion for this issue has ran so deep… until October 2005.

During that month, a close family friend, who, one might even say was like an extended family member, was the victim of a surreal accident which claimed her life. This woman was a registered donor whose six organs, two corneas, and various tissues were able to be successfully transplanted.

Because of the close relationship I have with this family, in the weeks and months immediately following, I was able to bear witness to the extreme heartache this death produced. The coping process, however, was eased as many of the family members (including siblings and parents) would attest with the knowledge that their family member was able to help so many in need.

A few siblings indicated the comfort which was provided during the transplant period at the hospital; of how they felt a devastating void yet simultaneously found it reassuring to hear the landings and departures of the helicopters they knew were preserving a physical part of their sister.

After a few months, letters of gratitude from recipients began arriving to the family. Two such letters chronicled how after years of waiting on the national transplant list, these recipients were released to their homes and were now enjoying new and active lifestyles.

Through these letters and the stories they share, I have also been able to witness the powerful transformation yielded by the grieving process within the family.

As this woman’s father, an 85-year-old man notes, “These two recipient stories have definitely taken the sadness away from my daughter’s death.”

Make a difference in someone else’s life…register to be an organ/tissue donor.

President – North Central College, Students for Organ Donation chapter

Naperville, Ill.

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