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A Tribute to Ted Gerbig, Organ Recipient and Donation Advocate

Ted with transplant manager Mary FrancoisTed Gerbig, our friend and a dedicated organ donation promoter who received a lung transplant at UW Hospital and Clinics in 2003, passed away on July 12, 2013, one day after his 10-year transplant anniversary.

 

Those of us who knew Ted can agree that milestones were important to him. They helped him through the tough times and gave him something to work toward. We're glad he experienced another transplant anniversary before he left us.

 

Although Ted struggled with his health over the years, he was extremely dedicated to the mission of organ donation. His gratitude for the gift he received from his donor, David Duranceau, led him on a journey that wove his and David's families together.

 

Read about Ted and David

 

A true believer in the power of one small gesture, Ted spent the last 10 years helping others understand the value of the gift he received. Not a day went by that Ted didn't recognize David's gift of life. Both families were thrilled to see Ted spend that extra time reveling in other major milestones, like enjoying the outdoors with his son, walking his daughters down the aisle at their weddings and welcoming many new grandchildren.

 

Ted and his wife, Shelby, were founding members of the group North Central Wisconsin Donate Life. This team of transplant recipients, donor family members, their families and other dedicated donation volunteers created and hosts the Race for Life Scavenger Hunt in Wausau. Each spring hundreds of people gather to enjoy a day of fun and adventure while promoting the mission of donation.

 

Thousands of dollars from that event were donated to the UW OTD Donor Education Fund to support ongoing efforts to increase donation education and awareness, as well as to the Restoring Hope Transplant House, where transplant recipients find a home away from home during their visits to the UW Health Transplant Program.

 

Their efforts greatly increased the number of people who registered as donors in the Wausau area. We may never know the true measure of Ted's ripple effect, but certainly others will receive their gift of life because of his work.

 

Ted was also a wonderful friend and liaison to recipients and donor family members, using his sweet smile and gentle approach to help others through their journey. Many of us at UW formed a wonderful bond with Ted, Shelby and their families and we will continue to honor them by working hard to increase organ donation and save more lives through transplantation. 

 

A Tribute from Ted's Wife Shelby: You're Almost Home Ted

 

It's almost 3am on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Ten years ago in 2003, a young man left his friends and family way too soon, but in his passing he gave the gift of life to Ted. Soon, possibly today, when Ted goes home to the greatest healer of all, he will get to meet this young man that we have come to know through the love of his family.   

For so many years, our focus has been on doing all the things we needed to do to keep Ted alive. The open heart surgery. The lung transplant. The bi-lobectomy. The pneumonectomy. Two heart ablations. Lots of chest tubes and IVs. Piles of pills. Mountains of pain. Ted fought his way through all of this, and hardly ever complained. It was all worth it to him. He fought because he loves his family, his friends and neighbors. He fought because it is so important to him to express his gratitude for his gift of life. He fought because he wasn't done with all the things he planned to do.

Ted is done fighting to live. He's tired. His body is tired. So tonight, when the house is quiet, and after visits from so many of our friends and family, I sit here watching the slow rise and fall of Ted's chest. I watch our daughter Heidi as she sleeps on the floor near her father's chair. For now, they are breathing in almost perfect unison. I pray for safe travels for Chad, and Mike and Conni, and my parents as they come to say farewell.

Dear God,
 
I am sure you already know what is in my heart, but I need to make sure we are clear on some things. I am entrusting the man I have loved since I was 19 years old to you. Please take good care of him. He likes to be in charge of things, so you might have to remind him who the boss is every once in a while. He hates to shave, but I know Jesus didn't do a lot of that either, so I think we are okay there.

 

He misses his parents, especially his mom. I'm hoping you will let them be there when Ted arrives. He has had so much pain and struggled with a lot. Please give him a healthy, heavenly body, one strong enough to do all the things that he has been wanting to do - a little fishing, a long walk in the woods, maybe some golf. He has such respect for the man who gave him the gift of life. Please make sure he gets to meet David.  

Lord, he's a good man. I am going to miss him so much. He has always taken such good care of me and our family. Thank you for bringing us together. Please reassure him that you will continue to guide and care for me and the kids and their families, and that it is okay for him to let go. I am ready to hand him over to you.  

Amen.