For families who are forced to deal with medical dilemmas involving organ transplants, the journey to wellness can be long, complicated, emotional, exhausting and expensive. From finding a donor to settling medical bills, the process can seem hopeless. That’s why we were pleased to hear about an organization that is working hard to ease the stress of the organ transplant process.
Melissa Chediak Wetzel has worked with Transplant Foundation for seven years. The Transplant Foundation is a non-profit whose goal is to educate the community about the importance of organ donation and ease the emotional toll the process can take on patients and family members. After getting her start as the special events and education coordinator, Melissa is now serving the Foundation as director of development. Not only is this a job for Melissa but it is a true labor of love – two of her family members have endured organ transplants.
The essay that Melissa submitted for AutoNation’s Driven to Make A Difference contest touched our hearts and gave us an awareness of this cause that effects so many people in communities all over the country. It is our hope that through the Driven to Make A Difference contest you, too, can gain awareness about a cause in your local community and get involved in giving back.
Melissa Chediak Wetzel’s winning essay:
I was recently talking with the parents of Susie, an 18-month old heart transplant recipient, and reminiscing about their transplant journey: a whirlwind diagnosis of congenital heart failure at 6-months of age, Susie was transferred to Miami where she and family stayed at Transplant House. Her family found strength being surrounded by others experiencing transplants too. Then they got the call one Tuesday morning and she received her lifesaving transplant. On the tail end of the miracle, their insurance woes persisted and needed assistance to cover Susie’s first month’s medication.
Transplant Foundation was there to help. And rightly so, as it is our mission to give both financial and emotional support to transplant patients, educate the community on the importance of organ and tissue donation and fund transplant research. Since inception in 1987, we have awarded over $3 million toward the mission work—patient care, education outreach and funding research. We lovingly helped Susie and family and in talking to them I was reminded of the old adage “it takes a tribe to raise a child!”
The time and support it takes to care for a child is similar to the devotion we have to those we serve, over 500 transplant families a year. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of the Transplant Foundation these past 7 years.
Whether it’s providing financial assistance to cover medicine, or housing, or it’s giving a child a year’s worth of school supplies, or matching a pre-transplant patient to a mentor, or hosting the Tree of Life ceremony, which gives recipients the outlet to honor their organ donor, Transplant Foundation is here to make the transplant journey less tumultuous for families.
As you may already know, one organ/tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of up to 50 people. By granting us this gift, you will have a hand in impacting the lives of thousands of transplant patients and their families: their caregivers, their parents, their siblings—their tribes. It starts with you: Just ONE makes the difference.