Grad student looking for Chattanooga organ donor's family who saved her grandmother
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A Louisiana woman has put out a request on social media to meet the Chattanooga family who saved her grandmother's life nearly 30 years ago.
In the late 1980's, Danielle Kelley's grandmother received a lung and heart transplant that saved her life, and now her granddaughter is making it her mission to say thank you.
The LSU grad student has 13 years of memories with her grandmother that she said wouldn't have been possible without the decision from a Chattanooga family to donate their loved one's organs.
She wrote a letter to this anonymous family and hopes one day to meet them.
"Dear sweet, wonderful, generous and kind family. Thank you for the gift of life, my family is forever grateful," Danielle said as she reads the letter.
Danielle remembers her grandmother's love of gardening, cooking and taking her on trips to the zoo.
It's hard for her to believe she may never have had the chance to meet her.
"She was such an influential person she made me into the woman who I am today," she said, "And if I never had those memories with her, what kind of person I would be today?"
Before Danielle was born her grandmother, Debbie Newman, received a double lung and heart transplant in a Houston hospital.
The only information her family has on the donor, is he was a young man or teenage boy living in the Chattanooga area and he died on September 21st, 1987 or shortly before.
"I know that there is a chance that they unfortunately might not be living anymore or they may have moved away," she said.
But there's a chance this young man's family is still alive, and still living in Chattanooga.
"I want them to know that she lived for 19 more years after the transplant, that she would not have lived otherwise. I want them to know we are very thankful for that."
If the family ever hears this message, Danielle would like to say thank you.
Her letter reads in full:
"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.
Danielle has been searching for this organ donor's family for about a year now.
She's also created a website to connect other organ donors with their recipients so they can have the chance to meet. It's