Transplant Recipient Makes His Gift of Life A Trip of a Lifetime
Madison, Wisconsin - Mike Greiner was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 7. By the time he reached his mid-30s, his disease had taken its toll, draining his energy and ability to spend active time with his children, Chloe and Levi.
His wife, Sheri, faced an uncertain future - a future without him, left alone to raise their children. The only hope Mike could hold on to was finding a compatible kidney/pancreas for transplant.
In August, 2003, Mike's hope became a reality when he received a life-saving call. A Wisconsin family's greatest loss became an Illinois family's "gift of life."
How can one give back after receiving the ultimate gift? What can one do to convey their appreciation for another chance at life? These are the questions that crossed the minds of Mike and Sheri Greiner. These questions were answered soon after.
Sheri had always hoped to travel throughout the United States and they knew such a trip would be a great learning experience for their home-schooled children. They decided to partner a trip with the goal of promoting organ donation in every state in the U.S. At that moment the trip of a "life" time was born.
In April 2010, the Greiner family sold their home in Illinois, packed up a few necessities, loaded into their minivan and embarked on their U.S. tour. The goal - to visit every state and increase registered organ donors in each state.
That was 12 months ago. Mike, Sheri, Chloe and Levi have visited almost every state, including Hawaii. Mike created a website to enable others to follow their trip and read news articles, view interviews and check in on how donation lists are growing throughout the U.S. Their goal was to promote donor registration by sharing their story. And though they don't take credit for the numbers, they were told that in the Kentucky region, donor registrations increased by 10.7 percent after their story ran in the newspaper.
With the help of many OPOs and transplant centers across the country, they became expert spokespersons for the mission or organ, tissue and eye donation. Not only did they learn as they traveled, but the educated thousands of people, hoping their gift of life, their trip of a lifetime, would one day help save another's life as well.
As Mike reflects, "We left thinking our trip was about trying to save lives and see a wonderful country. We returned discovering the trip was about wonderful people, too."
Now Mike is happy to return to Wisconsin for his yearly check-up, for this is where his transplant journey began. He says, "I was born in Illinois but I got my second chance at life in Wisconsin."
You can do your part to help make sure more people like Mike get a second chance at life. Register to become an organ donor at the Donate Life Wisconsin/Donor Registry.
Learn more about the Greiner family: Illinois Family Honors UW Health With Transplant Award
Date Published: 05/19/2011