Vikki’s Donation Story

April 23, 2012

Vikki Tulcus is an amazing advocate for organ and tissue donation. She has spent the last 10 years of her career building organ and tissue donation awareness and encouraging Illinois residents to register as lifesaving donors. Vikki’s journey within the field of donation became very personal in 2009 when she was diagnosed with a renal disease that will eventually require a kidney transplant.

Throughout April, Vikki is featured in Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s commercial to promote organ and tissue donation. Below, Vikki tells her story in both video and print. 

For the past 10 years, I have worked within the field of organ and tissue donation. My roles have, primarily, allowed me to work with donation recipients and donor families to promote organ and tissue donation throughout Illinois. I began my career with Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network where I gained valuable insight into donation and my eyes were opened to the overwhelming need for registered organ and tissue donors.

In 2007, I joined the Illinois Secretary of State Organ/Tissue Donor Program as the Community Outreach Coordinator for Chicago where I continue to work tirelessly to build organ and tissue donation awareness. My job responsibilities have me traveling the state and working closely with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to encourage Illinois residents to register as lifesaving organ and tissue donors.

My personal and professional lives became enmeshed on November 13, 2009, when I became extremely ill. I knew something was drastically wrong when breathing became difficult and I grew too weak to walk. I thought it was just an extreme asthma attack and went to the emergency room after my condition worsened. My situation was critical, and doctors worked to save my life. Within hours, I was diagnosed with Wegner’s Syndrome—a rare, autoimmune disease that is chronic and can be fatal. I was told that I was in renal failure and required immediate dialysis. 

Since that day, my life has changed dramatically. I continue to work full time for the Illinois Secretary of State and juggle the responsibilities of daily life. But, each night, I hook myself up to a machine that spends the next 10 hours doing the work that my kidneys no longer can do. My name has been added to the national transplant waiting list for a kidney. Each day, I hope for my lifesaving gift. Unfortunately, in Illinois, the average wait time for a kidney transplant is approximately seven years.  

As I wait for a new kidney, I find hope in the stories of recipients who are grateful for their second chance at life. When I search for a meaning for my illness, I am inspired by stories of heroes who have selflessly donated their organs and tissue to save others. Each day that I wait, I am hopeful that a donor will save my life.  

– Vikki Tulcus, Community Outreach Coordinator, Illinois Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Program

Give Vikki and more than 5,000 Illinois residents a second chance at life by registering your decision to be an organ and tissue donor at DonateLifeIllinois.org! Learn more about Vikki and the Illinois Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Program at LifeGoesOn.com.


Donate Life Month Wrap-Up

May 4, 2011

April has ended, and May is officially here. We can now look forward to warm weather, kids coming home from school, days at the beach and all sorts of summer fun. But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s be sure to reflect on an extremely successful National Donate Life Month.

There were hundreds of events and news stories surrounding donation throughout April, which led to a HUGE boost in donor registrations. Here, in no particular order, are four of our favorites from the past month.

1. 30 Reasons You Should Register as an Organ Donor Blog

Scott's driver's license showing that he is a registered donor.

Scott Meis, a good friend of Donate Life Illinois, documented 30 reasons why you should register as an organ and tissue donor. Each day throughout the month of April, Scott gave a new reason to register. His reasons to register ranged from sharing donor family and recipient stories to his #1 reason you should register—Duh.

Scott’s blog is an amazing compilation of donation stories and information. We encourage you to take a few moments to read 30
Reasons You Should Register as an Organ
Donor
 at Scott’s blog.

2. Charles Tillman and Paco Rodriguez

Organ and tissue donation leaped into the national headlines on Tuesday, April 19. Two nationally syndicated television shows prominently featured heartfelt organ and tissue donation stories.

Jackie Tillman, daughter and heart transplant recipient Tiana and Charles.

In the morning, The Oprah Winfrey Show featured the family of Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and their story of life and donation. Tiana Tillman, Charles’ daughter, needed  a lifesaving heart transplant as a baby, and she was fortunate enough to receive the gift of life from a selfless donor. Oprah highlighted the Tillman family’s story and then introduced them to their donor family. You can view the video here.

Recipients of Francisco Rodriguez's organs with Francisco's wife and child, Sonia and Ginette Rodriguez.

Later that afternoon, the ESPN program E:60 told the story of Chicago boxer Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez and his family’s decision to donate life after a fatal bout in Philadelphia. The story is available on ESPN.com here.

3. Gift of Hope Hospital Campaign

Morgan D'Organ joins Wendy, Nichole and Ryan at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago

Throughout April, the Hospital Development staff at Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network worked closely with hospitals throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana to build donation awareness and register hospital staff and guests as organ and tissue donors. The Hospital Development staff held tons of events and registered hundreds of individuals as organ and tissue donors. Their efforts ranged from staffing donor registration tables to hosting educational panels featuring Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Steve Ferkau and Anna Davlantes at Lifesaving Partners.

The Hospital Development staff also hosted the annual Lifesaving Partners Awards event with Fox Chicago News anchor Anna Davlantes as emcee and double-lung recipient Steve Ferkau as featured speaker. 

4. Commercial Featuring Mikahla Thornton and Brittney Payton

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office produced a commercial featuring heart recipient Mikahla Thornton and Brittney Payton, daughter of the late Chicago Bears legend. The commercial aired throughout Illinois and encouraged viewers to register their decision to be organ and tissue donors.

Thanks to all of you who made an effort to promote organ and tissue donation throughout National Donate Life Month. No effort was too small in April, whether it was a tweet to friends encouraging them to register or an event that drew thousands. If you haven’t done so already, take 30 seconds to register your decision to be an organ and tissue donor at DonateLifeIllinois.org!


Secretary of State’s “You Can Make A Difference” Countertop Display Project

June 23, 2010

Donate Life Illinois volunteer Gail Woodward was recognized by the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, over the weekend.  Gail is sharing her story with Illinois’ residents that visit the Ottawa Drivers’ Facility on a story board counter-top display.  The displays are intended  to inform Illinoisans about the importance of organ and tissue donation while having the opportunity to join the Illinois’ Organ/Tissue Donor Registry.

Click here to view Gail’s display.

Check out the great article on Gail written by Steve Stout at The Times.

Visit your local Driver’s Facility to view other displays within this project, and while you’re there don’t forget to join the Illinois’ Organ/Tissue Donor Registry!

-Joslyn

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine


Scrimmage with Chicago Bears and Save Lives

June 11, 2010

Donate Life Illinois partner, Illinois Secretary of State, has joined forces with the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation to bring organ and tissue donation to the forefront of Charles Tillman’s 4th Annual Meijer Celebrity Gridiron Challenge. Vicki, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Illinois Secretary of State, shares the event details in today’s post.  It’s an event not to miss! -Joslyn

On Saturday, June 19, Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman will host the 4th Annual Celebrity Gridiron Challenge.

There will be lots of games and activities for the entire family including a performance by the Jesse White Tumbling Team.  Fans of all ages will enjoy watching on-field scrimmages with pro football players and will have a chance to meet members of the Chicago Bears.  A donor registration drive will be held in The Cornerstone Fan Zone where there will also be games and activities for children.

Secretary of State Jesse White will present Charles Tillman and his wife Jackie with a signed Proclamation issued by Governor Quinn declaring June 19th as The Tillman Family Organ/Tissue Donor Awareness Day.

The Tillmans became involved in raising awareness for organ/tissue donation after their daughter Tiana received a lifesaving heart transplant at just three months old.  Tiana was born with cardiomyopathy and needed a heart transplant in order to save her life.  She is now a healthy 3-year-old. Click here to learn more about Tiana’s story.

The festivities run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Lake Zurich High School located at 320 Church Street in Lake Zurich.  Attendance is free. Click here for additional event details.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine


Hospitals Celebrate National Donate Life Month

April 20, 2009

flagsacrossamerica_160x160Hospitals across Illinois and Northwest Indiana are celebrating National Donate Life Month.

This past weekend, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White dropped by Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb to call attention to organ donation. Sherman Hospital also recently helped spread the word about donation with this blog post.

From engaging employees and community members in registration activities to dedications and memorials for donors, the medical community unites during this special month. Hospitals are also flying the Donate Life flag on their flag poles throughout the month and Morgan D’ Organ is even making the rounds by dropping in to say hello.

Thank you to all our fabulous hospitals for helping with our lifesaving outreach!

-Joslyn

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine


New Illinois Organ Donation Commercial

April 6, 2009

Last week, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office launched their 2009 commercial touting the importance of organ and tissue donation. Check it out below!

-Scott


Stealing the Court at Halftime

February 13, 2009
img_0567

SOS Jesse White chats with volunteers

Donate Life Illinois volunteers stole the show at the DePaul University men’s basketball game this week. Thanks to the Astellas sponsorship, DLI volunteers participated in Get Game. Give Life. – an initiative that brings organ/tissue donation into the limelight during collegiate sporting events.

img_7031

Jesse White speaks about organ/tissue donation

The DePaul Blue Demons played a fierce game against the Seton Hall Pirates; however, the crowd really got going when seven Donate Life Illinois all-stars (Rich, Colette, Jen, Lacey, Joe, Christine and Derek) stepped out on court during half time. With special messages by the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and transplant surgeon Dr. Enrico Benedetti, sports fans learned about the significant need for organs as well as the importance of joining the organ/tissue donor registry.

img_7029

DePaul students help register IL residents

More than 70 sports fans registered their decision to become organ/tissue donors with the help of the DePaul University’s Public Health Student Organization. These five spectacular students not only were at the game to register their fellow classmates; they also held donor registration stations on campus in the days leading up to the game. (A huge thanks to Traci, Nar, Suraj, Katherine and Patrick for their hard work during mid-terms!)

To wrap up the half time show, the Jesse White Tumbling Team put on an outstanding performance. Secretary White showed off his tumbling skills and even Dibs the Blue Demon got in on the gig!

Thanks everyone!

~Joslyn

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine


%d bloggers like this: