By: Marlene Lewis & Henryk Ptasiewicz
The Heart of Hope was created for AOPO* in Saint Louis in 2009. In the search for commissioning a piece that would serve to commemorate organ transplant, and what it means to donate life, unbelievably, only one call was made. On that first call, it was learned, that quite serendipitously one of the artists – Marlene Lewis – had a sister who was the recipient of a Heart-Lung transplant. Having seen her art, and understanding her personal connection to organ transplant, we believed that this was something that truly was meant to be.
But since AOPO, the Heart of Hope has had quite an extraordinary journey, and it seems that this wonderful work of art truly has a life of its own, through its ability to keep on giving.
So, we at Bridge to Life, held a drawing at AOPO, and Karen Brown of CORE was the lucky recipient of the original piece. Through great diligence, the piece was delivered and now hangs in the foyer at CORE in Pittsburgh, behind the front desk. As it turns out, Sharon Fuller-Thorne, whose son was an organ donor, works at that desk, and is the first person you see when you walk in the door. Sharon now proudly sits in front of the Heart of Hope every day.
On another occasion, a signed print of the Heart was raffled at the University of Toledo’s Capstone Celebration, commending graduates of the transplant coordinator program. Ellen Blair, a long time organ transplant professional from Ohio, and most importantly a proud Donor Mom, was miraculously drawn out of the hat, from the over 70 participants. Ellen still picks up heart-shaped rocks in remembrance of her son.
Later in the year, the Heart found another home with Connie Culp, the very first US recipient of a full face transplant. Miss Connie is a remarkable woman, and has been given a new lease on life by the amazing work done by LifeBanc and the Cleveland Clinic. Connie’s print now hangs proudly in her home.
The Heart of Hope has truly had a life of its own, and we are so happy to share this with you!
* AOPO (Association of Organ Procurement Organizations) — www.aopo.org
This professional organization is dedicated to the special concerns of OPOs (Organ Procurement Organizations). It provides education, information sharing, research and technical assistance and collaboration with other healthcare organizations and federal agencies.
Bridge to Life is a Columbia, SC based supplier of organ preservation solutions and supports research to improve transplant outcomes.