Then and Now: 2018 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar

While the team of the UW Health Transplant Program and UW Organ and Tissue Donation have helped grieving families, living donors and transplant recipients through the hardest time of their lives, we know that the real courage lies in the patients and families themselves. These people have been able to persevere — and, indeed, thrive — despite difficult or tragic circumstances.


Though the act of donation and the resulting transplant is life-changing, what happens afterward is remarkable. Donor families, transplant recipients and living donors feel the need to make yet another difference in their communities. Some through their support of organ donation efforts and others through volunteerism or by making life better for their families and those with whom they work.

The people in this calendar have made the most of their experience between then and now. The adults have used the years between then- the time of donation or transplant- and now to give back to others, and the children eagerly look forward to what they can do in the future. We’re proud to work with patients and families as they transition from then to now and are grateful to be part of that process.


Then and Now: The Faces of Transformation


January: David Nordin 

David Norden

David received the gift of life on August 17, 1997. Deeply motivated by gratitude for his teenage organ donor, David vowed that he would spend the rest of his life “paying it forward.” When he retired a few years ago, he began this work in earnest. 


Meet David and watch his story


February: Erin Davisson LeMere 

Erin Davisson LeMere

As a TV news anchor in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Erin Davisson LeMere's battle with liver disease was very public. In August 1990, she was put on the wait list for a liver transplant at UW Health. She and the station managers made the decision to share every step of her journey with her television audience. While she received the gift of life in November 1990, her public awareness campaign was far from over.


Meet Erin and watch her story


March: Justin Mandeville 

Justin Mandeville

Justin Mandeville has suffered from kidney
problems since he was a toddler. He spent much of his time at American Family Children’s Hospital, and when he was 6 years old, doctors needed to remove his kidneys to save his life. He spent the next six years on dialysis. His mother, Jen, says the dialysis was a godsend, but it was still only a temporary solution—he needed a kidney transplant.


Meet Justin and watch his story


April: Sherry Linzmeier 

Sherry Linzmeier

Twenty-one years ago, Sherry Linzmeier experienced one of the worst days of her life when her son, Dan, was involved in a car crash that left him brain dead. Across the span of more than two decades, Sherry and her husband Ron's decision to donate their son's organs has led to more relationships and opportunities than they could have ever imagined.


Read Sherry's story


May: Jenny Flasher-Yelczyn 

Jenny Flasher-Yelczyn

When she was 7 years old, Jenny Flasher-Yelczyn of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), a progressive, genetic lung disorder that, over time, limits a person’s ability to breathe. After graduating from college in 1990, her health went downhill and she asked her doctor about the possibility of a lung transplant. At the time, such a procedure was a very new idea for CF patients. But, in 1994, Jenny was able to go on the wait list at UW Health for a new set of lungs.


Read Jenny's story


June: Amy Beaman

Amy Beaman

After receiving kidneys from both of her parents, Amy Beaman vowed she would protect her body from any more trauma. She and her husband, Chip, wanted to expand their family, so they researched adoption options. In October 2005, they learned they had been matched with a child. But just before they were about to go out to celebrate, Amy’s doctor called and informed her that she was pregnant. Suddenly, their family’s carefully laid-out plans changed.


Read Amy's story


July: Meiyee Chen

Meiyee Chen and her family

During the summer of 2015, Yimeng Chen and Shaonan Lu believed they had limited time left with their baby daughter, Meiyee. They learned she had biliary atresia. Meiyee needed a liver transplant, but her surgeon was concerned that a liver from a deceased donor would not help her in time. She needed a living liver transplant as soon as possible and her father ended up as the perfect match.


Read Meiyee's story


August: Chad Larson 

Chad Larson

Chad Larson’s health challenges began when he became an amputee at age 16. Then he received a kidney transplant. He had a second transplant in 2013—a combined pancreas-kidney transplant. While he is unable to work full-time, Chad has discovered another way in which he can give back and express his gratitude for the gift of life—working tirelessly on behalf of his beloved hometown.


Read Chad's story


September: Charlene and Al Wright

Al Wright

 Al Wright’s wife, Charlene, was a beloved figure in her hometown. Across three decades, she cared for more than 50 children in her home daycare, and was known by many as “Grandma Charlene.” When she died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism in 2007, Al was devastated. The only silver lining for him was that she was able to donate her organs to people who desperately needed them. For Al, Charlene’s death was not an ending, but rather a beginning.


Read Al's story


October: Dick Kreibich

 Dick Kreibich

By the time Dick Kreibich reached his 50s, heart disease became a sad reality for him. While doctors tried giving him medications and an implantable cardiac defibrillator, nothing helped. He needed a heart transplant. Dick was placed on the wait list, but as he, Leslie and their then 3-year-old son, Alex, waited, they wondered if he would receive his gift of life in time.


Read Dick's story


November: Bill McKenzie and Julie Underwood 

Bill McKenzie and Julie Underwood

Bill McKenzie and Julie Underwood have been the
best of friends for more than three decades. They first met before either of them lived in Wisconsin. Bill learned he suffered from end-stage kidney failure, and by 2010, he needed a new kidney. Julie didn’t hesitate, and said she would be happy to donate. Unfortunately, she was not a good match for him. The two would need to explore other options so that Julie could still provide Bill with the gift of life.


Read Bill and Julie's story


December: Phylis Taft

Phylis Taft

Phylis Taft desperately needed a kidney transplant. But it was the late 1980s, and imuran—the primary antirejection drug available to transplant recipients—had unpleasant and even dangerous lifelong side effects. Hans Sollinger, MD, PhD, transplant surgeon at UW Health, was testing a new immunosuppressant that could work better than imuran, but he needed patients to participate in the first trial. Phylis agreed to try the new medication because she would at least be able to help someone else.


Read Phylis's story