SLIDESHOW: Organ donor celebration - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SLIDESHOW: Organ donor celebration

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- There were lots of tears and hugs this afternoon at a Louisville hospital as dozens of people gathered to celebrate both life and death.

Today, Jewish Hospital observed Donate Life Month by bringing together those who received life-saving organ transplants and the families of those who gave the ultimate gift.

It was a family reunion of a different kind. These are people who have shared sickness, pain and sacrifice -- people like Allie Dunn, a UK student who was dying of heart disease.  "My family and all friends just all would like to thank the donor family for what they have done to give me a second chance at life," said Dunn.

Today, Allie met privately, for the first time, with the family that donated the heart that saved her.  "It was a very emotional experience, almost surreal at this point. I'm just so grateful for what they have done and how they just continued their daughter's legacy," she said.

Marie Hickey-Kouri understands. Even as she sang at today's celebration, she remembered her brother, Paul.  He died in a car wreck in 1999. But his organs saved five people.

"It's the worst thing that could ever happen to you when you lose a sibling or a son. We didn't expect it to be so rewarding down the road," she said.

"As a mom, it's helped me to heal. It's helped me to know that my son left a legacy. That he is living on through others," said Paul's mother, Sandy Hickey.

These are some of the success stories. But there are 120-thousand people on the organ waiting list. And every day, 17 of those will die for lack of a donor.

"I think if everybody would just sign up, we could do this on a scale ten times bigger than this," said transplant surgeon Dr. Christopher Jones.

And that would mean more stories like Allie. Who will soon return to UK and resume the life she nearly lost.

"Donate your organs. They're not going to be any use to you once you're gone. You can help so many other people that you don't even know."

If you would like more information about organ donation, you can go to the website for Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, KODA, which is linked here.

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