Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 19 – Remembering Sunshine

Steve Ferkau’s post the other day about Samantha Joos reminded me to feature Samantha here as part of our Illinois Donor Diaries. Last Friday, Steve and Samantha’s Dad, Tim, were able to present to the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine. The audience was comprised of 400 high school juniors all around the age of 17 – the same age Samantha was when she was killed in November 2003 on her way to school by a semi-truck spinning out of control in an early morning rainstorm.

Samantha had spoken with her parents about organ & tissue donation. As a result, Samantha donated tissue, heart valves and bone that helped saved the lives of others waiting for lifesaving transplants. Be sure to hop over and check out Steve’s post about his experience presenting with Tim. Steve gave me a quick recap of the experience noting the following:
“You really have to see Tim’s presentation to high schoolers. He’s pretty incredible.

When Laura (Steve’s wife) comes to these, she takes a chair in a front corner and watches the audience reaction… Though Tim gave the “please close your eyes” instructions — she didn’t… She turned and watched the audience… She said the group of girls behind her were just sobbing… She saw boys with their head in their hands… A few people had to leave — later we found out there were six who left — it was just too much for them… His presentation to kids this age is just incredibly powerful…”

Amazing stuff.

Below is the Donor Diary entry submitted by Tim and Deb Joos. Samantha had the nickname Sunshine, which isn’t surprising when you look at that wonderful photo. Thank you both for sharing.


Remembering Sunshine

We discussed organ & tissue donation the second she got her driver’s license. She definitely wanted to be a donor. Her willingness to share her organs and tissues was an example of her generosity. Samantha Joos was killed in a car accident on her way to school during a heavy rainstorm in November 2003. She lost control of her car, spun into oncoming traffic, and was hit head-on by a semi trailer truck.

She was 17 years, nine-and-half months old, and a senior in high school when she died. Sam, you are very generous. We were able to carry out your wishes, and you were a tissue donor. You saved and improved the lives of others by donating heart valves, spine, bone, and other tissues. Another person’s life was saved because they received a heart valve replacement, thanks to you. We miss you, Sunshine, and we will always love you.

~ Tim & Deb Joos

St. Charles, Ill.


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