2015 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: Joe Herr
You may recognize Joe Herr as Madison's unofficial leprechaun. He makes appearances on St. Patrick's Day at local parades and businesses and visits places held dear in his heart, especially UW Hospital and Clinics and American Family Children's Hospital.
"I like to bring smiles to the faces of children and parents during difficult times," says Joe.
"I know what it was like to have a child in the hospital," says Joe. His son Logan suffered from cerebral palsy and died 12 years ago at the age of 4. Joe also relates as a patient. He suffered from polycystic kidney disease and received a kidney transplant in 2012. Joe is grateful to his wife, Lauren, who was his living donor, and to the transplant community.
He feels especially thankful for the remarkable nursing staff that helped him on his journey.
"Their kindness and care left a lasting impression," says Joe, "The follow-up care has been remarkable as well."
Two of his transplant nurses, Trisha Mason, RN, and Stacy Moneypenny, RN, and the abdominal transplant clinic director Mike Armbrust, RN, are equally impressed by the courage and spirit of their patients.
"It is incredibly rewarding to work on the transplant team, which often feels like a large, loving family," says Stacy. "It's wonderful when patients come back to visit and we see how strong they are becoming and how full their lives are." Adds Trisha, "We know how long they have waited for this moment of transplant and we not only care for them, but work to educate them on what their lives will be like post-surgery. We take this part of our jobs very seriously."
This team enjoys when patients visit them to share their stories or simply say thank you. "It reminds us why we love what we do," says Mike. Joe, like many recipients, is grateful to live a full and vibrant life, and feels strongly about sharing that message with others. "I want to show people what life can be like after a transplant," says Joe. "You can work in the business world, help others and still have physical activities in your life. I feel very blessed because I have a vibrant life that is full of energy and fun."
It is also full of purpose. Along with spreading smiles and St. Patty's Day cheer each March, Joe runs Logan's Hearts and Smiles, a non-profit organization that honors his son and raises funds to provide labor and materials to adapt the homes of children with physical disabilities to make them safe and accessible. "You can contribute to the world in many ways," says Joe. "I am very grateful for my health and to be able to give back to the community and help families in need."
When he's not wearing his green or building wheel chair ramps, at almost 50, Joe enjoys kayaking and biking. He encourages people to consider becoming donors and to have hope during their transplant journey. "Just look what you can do," says Joe.