Episodes

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Episode 65
Directed Organ Donation

Release Date 9/15/2017

Show Notes: On this episode of The Gifted Life Podcast, learn all about directed donation. What is directed donation you ask? We have a remarkable once-in-a-lifetime story you have to hear! Three men join our hosts to tell their story of sorrow, hope and healing. We honor their special hero, Cassie Edwards, and answer a listener’s question right here on episode 65 of The Gifted Life Podcast.


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Episode 64
NASCAR Driver Joey Gase honors Ava Branstetter

Release Date 9/01/2017

Show Notes: On episode 64 of The Gifted Life Podcast, experience a NASCAR race through the eyes and ears of a mother, a sister, and others close to Ava Branstetter. NASCAR driver Joey Gase is known not only for his talents on the track, but also revered for honoring donors who gave the gift of life. Hear how Joey and his sponsors, Best Home Furnishings and BK Racing, chose to honor Ava on Joey’s car. It’s a powerful journey captured through a mother’s audio diary. Learn more about Ava Grace Branstetter in our honor a hero segment and a listener calls to get her question answered. All right here on The Gifted Life. 

Music: Bensound


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Episode 63
Aron Eisenberg - Star Trek Actor and Two Time Kidney Transplant Recipient

Release Date 8/18/2017

Show Notes: We are excited to share this story with you on episode 63 of The Gifted Life. Star Trek actor Aron Eisenberg is a two time kidney transplant recipient and his transplantation story spans his entire lifetime. Aron played Nog, a fan favorite, on Star Trek Deep Space Nine and you will learn how a deceased donor played a part in helping him rocket his acting career into outer space. We also discover why a living donor is to thank now for the second phase of his life. We read a husband’s story about his living donor hero, Melody Goldman, and answer a listener’s question about donating a kidney to someone in need. Right here on The Gifted Life Podcast.


Episode 62
Donation in Canada and The David Foster Foundation

Release Date 8/04/2017

Show Notes: On The Gifted Life, we learn how Canada is making life happen and open this episode with a very special call to action from world-renowned music producer and artist, David Foster. Our hosts welcome donation physician, Dr. Faisal Siddiqui of Transplant Manitoba - Gift of Life, to help us understand how organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation operates in Canada. Learn how this country encourages discussion and registration, saves lives and tackles a common myth about organ, tissue and eye donation. Then the CEO of The David Foster Foundation, Mike Ravenhill then chats with our hosts about what made the award winning music producer and artist, David Foster, decided 30 years ago to help families of children awaiting a transplant. We also honor a Canadian donor hero, Kelsey and answer a question about international donation. All on episode 62 of The Gifted Life Podcast.


Episode 61
Bill Conner Bikes to Honor His Daughter’s Gifts of Life

Release Date 7/21/2017

Show Notes: On Father’s Day 2017, a donor’s father met his daughter, Abbey’s, heart recipient. Bill Conner rode his bicycle a total of 2600 miles from Wisconsin to Florida, making a stop in Ventress, LA. Bill met the recipient of his daughter’s heart, Loumonth Jack, Jr., also known as Jack or Roppy. The video of their embrace, Bill listening to his daughter’s heart and the tears, reached millions throughout the world. One of The Gifted Life Podcast’s hosts, Lori Steele, was there with Bill and Roppy on Father’s Day in Louisiana, and traveled to Florida to be there when Bill completed his healing journey with our Florida partners in donation, Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency.  Lori is joined by LOPA CEO, Kelly Ranum, on this episode. Together they recount how this heartwarming story unfolded, inspired thousands in the US to register as organ, tissue and eye donors, and touched the lives of millions worldwide.


Episode 60
Brain Death with Dr. Aysenne

Release Date 7/07/2017

Show Notes: On this episode of The Gifted Life we answer a common question. What is brain death? Dr. Aimee Aysenne breaks down the details about diagnosing brain death into terms we can all understand. Then we welcome Libbie Harrison. Libbie’s son, Justin, became a donor after brain death. The question we hear often, how can the heart still beat, when a person’s brain is no longer functioning? Hear how she came to accept Justin’s death and honor his wishes to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. We honor Hero, Major Earl Jenkins and Dr. Aysenne helps us answer a listener’s question here on episode 60 of The Gifted Life Podcast.


Episode 59
The Donate Life Rose Parade Float

Release Date 6/23/2017

Show Notes: On this episode of The Gifted Life, we delve into the history of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. The float rolls every year during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, and we talk to Kathleen Hostert, Donate Life Rose Parade Manager. Learn how this huge project started so many years ago, how a theme is chosen for the float each year, how it's designed and decorated, and how you can take part by dedicating a rose. Then hear from Julie Castille, mom of Kelly Theriot, and Hans Nelson, father of Christian Nelson, who are the Louisiana 2018 Floragraph honorees. Listen to us honor Hero Jennifer “Cotton” Newman, and answer a listener's question on this episode.


Episode 58
NASCAR Driver Joey Gase and Donate Life

Release Date 6/09/2017

The Gifted Life Podcast team invites you to take a journey with us during this special episode. This trip will take you from Louisiana to Texas, brings in ties from Iowa and right onto the stage of the nationwide phenomenon of NASCAR. Hear how the Donate Life message races by to honor heroes and register more organ, eye and tissue donors, and we honor Hero James Melton. Music: Courage by Borrtex. Hickory Interlude & Tiny Putty by Blue Dot Sessions.


Episode 57
Brain Donation for Research(Autism, PTSD and more) with Dr. Deborah Mash

Release Date 5/26/2017

Our hosts welcome LOPA Research Manager, Tina Madere, and Dr. Deborah Mash of the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank for a fascinating conversation about how donation for research, namely brain donation, supports the next generation. Research on Autism, Alzheimer's, PTSD, stress, anxiety and other mental health disorders stagnates without crucial brain donations. Dr. Mash calls the donors, along with their families, Citizen Scientists for their Gifts. Sally also shares new research which encourages older adults to step out of their comfort zone and learn new things to help keep brain pathways firing on all cylinders. We answer a listener’s question about registration and donation for research, plus honor Hero Colton Crum right here on episode 57 of The Gifted Life Podcast.


Episode 56
Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month and Lung Transplantation with Dr. Ray Rampolla

Release Date 5/12/2017

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month and we are dedicating this episode to lung donation and transplantation. We start with the highlights of some great moments during National Donate Life Month, which include stories about New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and an update on Jarrius “Little JJ”  Robertson’s wait for a liver. Dr. Rey Rampolla, head of the lung transplant program at Ochsner, talks to our hosts about his work and the triumph of saving lives. Then we talk to Sandra Brown, whose daughter became a donor in 1994, and how she waited 20 years to meet her lung recipient. Plus, Mrs. Sandra honors her daughter, Catrina Johnson, and you can hear a voicemail from a grateful mother of a Cystic Fibrosis patient who is urging listeners to register as a donor. Hear what she has to say, and more, on episode 56 of The Gifted Life Podcast.


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Episode 55
Expander: Hepatitis C and Organ Donation

Release Date 4/28/2017

Show Notes: On episode 55 of The Gifted Life Podcast we welcome Dr. Christine Durand back to the microphone and hear about expanding options for potential kidney recipients. A new medicine is curing Hepatitis C and it’s providing a way for more donors to save lives. Dr. Durand tells us about the Expander 1 project. Then we talk to a kidney recipient who participated in one of these pilot trials. Her experience is a testimony to how Hepatitis C donors can help save more lives than ever before. In our favorite part of the podcast, we honor Hero Steve Melancon, and then we answer a listener’s question right here on episode 55 of The Gifted Life Podcast.

 


Episode 54
HOPE Act: HIV and Organ Donation

Release Date 4/14/2017

Show Notes: On episode 54 of The Gifted Life Podcast, we are talking about new HOPE, namely the HOPE Act. The HOPE Act, enacted into law in 2013, paves the way for people living with HIV to become organ donors to potential recipients living with HIV. Dr. Christine Durand chats with our hosts about HOPE in Action, a research study piloted out of John Hopkins University that puts the HOPE Act into practice and is saving more lives. We then welcome in studio guest Dorian Gray Alexander. Dorian hosts a radio show, Proof Positive, is an advocate for the HIV+ community, and a member of a popular male dance group in New Orleans called the 610 Stompers. He talks with hosts about the implications of the HOPE Act and even teaches them some dance move during a break! We honor Hero Anthony Eichmann, talk about getting ready for National Blue and Green Day, and run into a two-time Superbowl champ with the Giants, who's raising awareness about the need for more registered organ, eye & tissue donors. Don’t miss this action packed episode of The Gifted Life Podcast. 


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Episode 53
Technological Advancements in the Organ Donation Process

Release Date 3/31/2017

Show Notes: April is National Donate Life Month and on episode 53 of The Gifted Life Podcast we are opening the archives with LOPA’s Director of Clinical Excellence, Michelle Duvernay. Hear how organ procurement has evolved since the first transplant of a kidney in 1954. We journey from a 1980's world of pen and paper, sparse fax machines and pagers, to the technology that has revolutionized saving lives in America. Our hosts wrap up the discussion with Michelle and welcome Wade Liu. Wade is Vice President of Product Development for Transplant Connect and a self-professed HUGE fan of The Gifted Life Podcast. He tells us about the software his company has developed to assist in streamlining organ recovery and transplantation. Plus, Sally and Wade talk about how this software also assists in supporting donor families after their loved one has given the Gift of Life. Lori and the rest of The Gifted Life team honor Hero Tina Brown, and we answer a listener’s question about connecting donor families and recipients. We are gearing up for National Donate Life Month celebrations like Blue and Green Day and hope you will join us!


Episode 52
National Eye Donor Month with LEITR (Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research)

Release Date 3/17/2017

Show Notes: On episode 52 of The Gifted Life Podcast, we are talking about eye donation for National Eye Donor Month. We launch this episode with Jason Woody, CEO of Lion’s Eye Institute for Transplant and Research(LEITR) and Chair for Donate Life America. Hear how LEITR is not only restoring sight through eye donation, but also conducting research to battle eye diseases. Ever wonder what a patient needing a cornea transplant goes through? LEITR’s Medical Director Dr. Lewis Groden educates about a recipient’s journey before, during and after cornea donation. Followed by donor mother, Dawn Futch, who tells our hosts how her family honored a decision that her son made to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, and the importance their family puts on continuing to give back to others. Plus, Dawn tells us more about her son, Michael-Gene Futch, and how he finally got his wish to see Africa. Guest and recipient, Samantha Shoemaker, takes our call to help answer a listener’s question about cornea donation with her first hand knowledge, right here on episode 52 of The Gifted Life Podcast.


Episode 51
Understanding the Waiting List

Release Date 3/03/2017

Show Notes: Have you ever wondered about how "The List" works? We have referred to the waiting list in several episodes and asked Mike Pressendo, Director of Communications at United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), to explain how it all works. Mike also talks about an amazing new video UNOS created, How to Rock a Bucket List and Save a Life, and the real life stories it was based on. Next we welcome in studio guest, Ricky Fernandez, a transplant social worker with Tulane Medical Center. Hear about the myriad of services a transplant social worker provides to help patients, families and caregivers work through the transplant process. We honor one of the Heroes that inspired UNOS’ Bucket List video, Kristina Chesterman, and answer a listener’s question right here on episode 51 of The Gifted Life Podcast.


Episode 50
Bone Marrow Donation with Robin Roberts and Sally-Ann Roberts

Release Date 2/17/2017

Show Notes: We have reached episode 50 of The Gifted Life Podcast. This is BIG! Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts and her sister, WWL TV’s Sally-Ann Roberts, are here to share their story with us! The sisters made headlines when Sally-Ann donated her bone marrow cells to save Robin’s life. Learn more about how this duo “makes their mess their message” and teaches the world about selfless acts of donation. Learn all about registering as a bone marrow donor as Lori, Joey and Sally are joined by Mary Halet from Be The Match, the national bone marrow registry. Discover the differences between registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor and a bone marrow donor. Mary also dispels some myths about bone marrow donation, she educates us about the process, and chats about services and resources provided to both recipients and donors. We honor two Heroes in our Honoring a Hero segment. Hear about two friends who signed up on the Be The Match registry, and saved the lives of two strangers. Help The Gifted Life Podcast team celebrate episode 50 by sharing with your friends and encouraging them to subscribe so they don’t miss an episode.


Episode 49
Using Data to Register More Organ, Eye and Tissue Donors

Release Date 2/03/2017

Show Notes: On episode 49 of The Gifted Life Podcast we welcome guest George Weiner, CEO of Whole Whale, and technology expert. Learn how George and his company are examining national data to help register more  organ, eye and tissue donors throughout the United States. He also shares tips for making an impact by spreading awareness and facts on social media. Then Lori and Sally welcome Lauren Puckett to the podcast. Lauren is currently waiting for a Hero to save her life. Her story touches on almost every aspect of donation and transplantation, and is a testimony of positivity you don’t want to miss. During our family support segment, Sally gives strategies for focusing on the good things, even when it feels like life is going all wrong. Kristi Mayfield is our honored Hero, and we answer a listener’s question about where they can get Donate Life goods here in episode 49 of The Gifted Life Podcast. 

 


Episode 48
Spreading Positive Rhetoric

Release Date 1/20/2017

Show Notes: Episode 48 of The Gifted Life brings us a firsthand account of the magnificence of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Bonita Wilson talks to our hosts about her trip to Pasadena and what it was like to see her son’s likeness, Ricardo “Buck” Brown, on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Experience the excitement of this self-proclaimed “country girl” going to California for the first time. Then, guest Brianna Doby fills us in on some practical methods of volunteering and spreading Positive Rhetoric (also the namesake of her company). Brianna shares ideas about how to encourage others to register and produce informative conversations about organ, eye and tissue donation. Sally talks about four emotions often associated with grief: pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion. Find out how to decipher between each emotion, and navigate them when assisting a loved one. We honor Hero Anthony Washington and answer a listener’s question about corresponding with a donor’s family all right here on episode 48 of The Gifted Life.


Episode 47
Help for Parents That Have Lost an Infant

Release Date 1/06/2017

Show Notes: Happy New Year! Episode 47 is our first episode of 2017. The Gifted Life Podcast Team thanks you for listening and sharing our podcast. We are excited to share one of the fantastic events that kicks off the New Year celebration in the Donate Life community, the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. The Donate Life Rose Float features donor floragraphs which are portraits created with floral materials. The 2017 Louisiana floragraph honoree is Ricardo “Buck” Brown. We catch up with his mother and his kidney recipient after they see his floragraph for the first time! Lori and Joey welcome guest Reecie Gilmore. She has a passion to urge parents to discuss organ, eye and tissue donation. This led her to work with Maddie’s Footprints, a nonprofit that helps parents who have lost an infant. Sally tackles the topic of anxiety and depression. We learn valuable information about the correlations between these two conditions. Clinton Ryan, our hero, is honored in a special way as his mother shares his story. Lori and Joey answer a listener’s question about getting involved in 2017. All that and more on this episode of The Gifted Life Podcast.


116,516 people are currently waiting for a life saving transplant.

Our goal is to raise awareness about the need for the life saving gifts of organ, tissue & eye donation. Help the Gifted Life Podcast share the latest information about donation and transplantation, share this podcast with your family and friends. Share your inspiring stories with us info@lopa.org or give us a call at (504) 648-3477. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Production Team: Kirsten Heintz, Chillon Latiolais, and Troy Perez.

Meet the Hosts


Lori

Lori Steele Community Educator

Lori Steele
Community Educator

Describe your role at LOPA:

My job is to maximize organ and tissue donation awareness and increase Louisiana’s donor registry. I work with our partners in schools, civic groups, businesses, churches, etc. to reach audiences interested in having a healthy discussion about donation. We have a strong volunteer base – made up of donor family members, recipients and those waiting on a transplant. Together, we give as much information as possible. Our hope is that those listening will see donation in a positive light and make an educated decision about donation – when they are ready to do so. We want them to take what they learned during their time with us and bring that information back home. We hope it sparks ‘another’ conversation…and another…and another.

What do you enjoy most about your work or working for LOPA?

I work closely with donor family members, recipients and those waiting on a transplant. Spending so much time together, we really become ‘a family’. I love what I learn about life from each and everyone of my new family members. They live life to the fullest! They don’t sweat the small stuff! They want to ‘pay kindness forward’! They encourage hugs! They share emotions! They want to make our world a better place! All that – hopefully – rubs off on me, my husband and our children!

Lori's background:

Lori Steele officially joined the life-saving team called the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (or LOPA) in 2010. Before that, Lori worked in TV News. She was a TV anchor and reporter for TV stations in the Lafayette and Baton Rouge areas. Starting in 1999, Lori ‘unofficially’ became LOPA’s media liaison – helping to promote organ donation awareness when possible. Lori fell in love with LOPA’s mission after covering a ‘Celebration of Life’ as a fledgling reporter. At that event honoring a HERO – an organ donor - she signed up to be an organ donor and has helped to promote the cause ever since. In 2010, following a national competition for organ donation awareness, Lori was named ‘The Most Enthusiastic Employee’ award for her ‘outside the box’ efforts to gain attention for the cause.

Interesting fact about you or what do you enjoy doing in your down time?

FAMILY is most important to me! I am a mother of 4 and my husband and I concentrate on making the most of our quality time together. A majority of that time for us, fortunately, is spent with those we have had the pleasure of meeting through LOPA. I am tickled that my 7-year old daughter knows more than most about organ donation. She thinks everyone should be a donor because in her words, "why wouldn’t you want to be?" FUN FACT: She volunteers "THE MOST" to speak at organ donation awareness events (she tells the stories of her ‘organ donor’ friends) and to play the part of our mascot – DEAUX NATE!


Joey

Joey Boudreaux, RN, BSN, CPTC Chief Clinical Officer

Joey Boudreaux, RN, BSN,
CPTC
Chief Clinical Officer

Describe your role at LOPA:

My job is to oversee organ recoveries throughout the state of Louisiana. One of my areas of focus includes maximizing a family's gift of donation through the utilization of the latest medical treatments of patients who have suffered severe brain injuries. I hope that their loved ones can save as many lives as possible. Another area of focus is to insure that the surgical processes and packaging of organs are performed with the utmost level of proficiency.

What do you enjoy most about your work or working for LOPA?

The thing that I enjoy the most is when a donor family gets the opportunity to meet their loved one's recipients for the first time. It is truly a life changing event for everyone involved. I also enjoy working with a staff that embodies our mission with an incredible passion throughout their day to day lives.

Interesting fact about you or what do you enjoy doing in your down time?

I spend most of my downtime exercising, playing golf or just hanging out with my wife, friends, or family. The longer I work for LOPA, the more of an appreciation that I have for those things.


Sally

Sally Gentry, LPC-s, FAPA, BCPC Family Services Coordinator

Sally Gentry, LPC-s, FAPA, BCPC
Family Services Coordinator

Describe your role at LOPA:

My role with LOPA is dedicated to maintaining and extending quality follow-up services for all our donor families.  Some of our supportive services include phone and written contact with families, grief counseling, emotional support, assisting with donor family and recipient requests for communication, facilitating direct contact, addressing issues or concerns, and interfacing with transplant centers and with other departments within LOPA. In addition, I see my purpose as one of being with families going through the labyrinth of emotional turmoil and helping them to see what good can result from a tragedy. Our department helps families focus on celebrating the life of their loved one and to see how one’s life can impact many others by saying YES to donation.      

What do you enjoy most about your work or working for LOPA?

I enjoy listening to family members reminisce about their loved one and how and what he or she did on a daily basis in life. One of the more rewarding parts of my job, is to hear the joy and excitement from a family and recipient when having the opportunity to meet and embrace one another for the first time. I am reminded of the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual benefits of one-on-one contact.  A celebration of new found relationships.   

Interesting fact about you or what do you enjoy doing in your down time?

Sally came to work with LOPA in 2000 to design and implement a family services program. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and holds Fellow status and Board Certification with the American Psychotherapy Association. She has been active in the mental health field for many years providing crisis intervention and counseling services to individuals and families affected by suicide, families of homicide victims, and adult bereavement and grief counseling.    

My spare time is spent working in my yard and playing with my dogs and horses.  I’ve always been an outdoor person and find great satisfaction being in nature.  The peace and quiet allows me time to think and be grateful.

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