Organ Recipient Meets Donor Family for First Time

Jay Deppe, pancreas transplant recipientMADISON - Jay Deppe (pictured) waited five years for this day.
This is the day he can meet face to face with Nicole Folden and her daughter, Skyla.
Five years ago Nicole's husband Kevin passed away. Kevin and his family generously donated five organs. Jay received Kevin's pancreas and underwent a pancreas transplant operation at UW Hospital and Clinics.
"The gratitude is immeasurable," Jay says. "I don't think in the human experience there are many things you can compare to that. I'm so fortunate, not just in getting my transplant, but actually to meet in-person the person and people responsible for making this happen."
"It's just great to know that Kevin lives on in him," Nicole says. "Because of Kevin, (Jay) is not sick anymore. It's just amazing what can be done."
Jay no longer needs to take insulin. Kevin's pancreas has given him a new life. He brushes away tears when he speaks about the whole process and is clearly amazed at how his once-dire situation has turned out.
"I don't think there are people out there who can go, 'That person right there changed my life.' And today I can. I can actually meet that person and shake their hand and look them in the eye and say, 'You changed my life,' " he says. "It wasn't a combination of people. It wasn't a combination of events. It was a person that said yes to donation and changed it."
Skyla, Nicole and her boyfriend Kerry made the trip from Garrison, South Dakota to Madison to meet Jay and his family, a meeting that was important to both families.
"I know that the transplant took place and everything," Nicole says. "But it's just like this is for real now. I think it has helped me get through it. I know that Kevin couldn't be here, because after suffering a severe stroke, he would have had no quality-of-life. And these people can go on and live day-by-day and do things that their lives hadn't allowed them to do."
"You really do gain a new family," Jay says. "My wife said it's like meeting your birth parents. I felt a separation between me and this family I never knew, but yet they gave me so much. And now I've met them."
Nicole views Jay's health as something of a memorial to Kevin's decision to be an organ donor.
"All of these people are living their lives now because Kevin donated his organs to them," she says. "Kevin is probably up there smiling down on all of this."

Date Published: 02/13/2008

News tag(s):  transplant

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