Oct. 5 remembrance ceremony features candlelight memorial, recognition of tissue donors

Online Staff Report

JANESVILLE, Wisconsin — “Reflections of Life, Reflections of Love” is the theme of a remembrance ceremony scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 5, at the Pontiac Center in Janesville, Wisconsin. The ceremony will honor families whose loved ones gave the gift of life through tissue donation.

The event will begin at 1 p.m. in the Baby Grand Room at the Pontiac Center, 2809 N. Pontiac Drive, Janesville.

Sponsored by RTI Donor Services, the ceremony is an opportunity for families to remember their loved ones who gave the gift of life through donation of tissue — skin, bone, heart valves, veins, corneas, tendons and cartilage — to save and improve the lives of others.

Two of the many donor families who will share their stories at this special program are donor mothers Sue Pasewald of Horicon, Wisconsin, and Loni Wendt of Waupun, Wisconsin.

Sue will share her story of the gift of tissue donation her daughter Christina gave when she tragically passed away at the age of 23. Sue and her husband Dave said yes to donation, wanting to honor Christina’s wish of helping others. Today, Sue is a passionate Donor Family Ambassador, volunteering by speaking about donation in her community and sharing her story with others.

I have become aware of how many people are waiting for organs and tissue,” Sue said. “It makes me even more eager to spread the word of how just one person can help so many. Don’t waste what could help someone else. Our beautiful daughter’s memory lives on forever.”

Loni Wendt will share the story of her daughter, Melissa, who was a tissue donor after losing her life in a car accident at the age of 16. Following Melissa’s death, donation was not a difficult decision for her mother.

I knew that that’s what Melissa had wanted,” Loni said. “I lost a brother when I was 18, and we donated his eyes. My mother was also an eye and tissue donor when she passed in 1999. Melissa chose to be a donor, and it was with pride that I carried out her wishes.” Melissa became the third generation in her family to be an eye donor and the second generation to be a tissue donor.

Donated tissue is used in more than 1 million surgeries routinely performed each year in the United States. Donated bone can save an injured patient from amputation, and may aid in spinal, musculoskeletal and fracture repair. Increasing numbers of surgeries use bone dowels, wedges, pastes and pins as the implants of choice for tissue repair. Tissue is sometimes favored over metals and synthetics — which can weaken and stress adjoining bone — and the body usually adapts to the transplanted bone as if it were the patient’s own.

We are pleased to honor the memory of so many loved ones who made the selfless decision to give the gift of life,” said Brenda Knighton, program director for RTI Donor Services, Midwest Division. “We look forward to remembering and recognizing them on this special day.”

Posted Oct. 3, 2014

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