The Gifted Life Podcast:
Conversations about organ, tissue and eye donation.
Improve your knowledge about organ, tissue and eye donation as your hosts Lori Steele, Sally Gentry and Joey Boudreaux have entertaining and informative conversations about donation. We address donation in the news, myths about donation, what's new in the community, new technologies, special guest interviews and much more.
Our Volunteer of the Year & LSU Students Register Donors
Release Date: 12/22/2017
Show Notes: One person can make a difference to register more organ, eye and tissue donors. On episode 72 of The Gifted Life Podcast, we are honoring our volunteer of the year, Jinx Broussard. Learn about her commitment to utilize her classroom for advocacy on campus at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. Plus, we hear from Jinx’s students from this past semester who tell us some of their notable highlights promoting organ, eye and tissue donation on LSU’s Campus. We honor hero Paula Fealko and answer a listener’s questions about how to start a campaign to promote donation on your local college campus.
Charity Tillemann-Dick and The Encore
Release Date 12/08/2017
Show Notes: On episode 71 of The Gifted Life Podcast we are sharing the microphone with a very gifted soprano, classical recording artist and lung recipient, Charity Tillemann-Dick. She talks about her 2 transplant journeys, meeting her donor’s family, recovery, and her career. She also talks about her new memoir, The Encore, which is spurring a movement to register more organ, eye and tissue donors. It’s an inspiring story of an acclaimed opera singer who received not one but two double lung transplants and went from struggling to draw a single breath to singing at venues throughout the world. Then we honor hero Jason Williams and answer a listener’s question about tissue donation.
Charity on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharityTD
Charity on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Charity.Sunshine.TillemannDick
Charity on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/charitytd
Over 20 Years of Saying Yes To Organ Donation
Release Date 11/24/2017
Show Notes: On this episode of The Gifted Life we continue celebrating 20 years with the Louisiana Donor Registry and saying YES to Life. We wanted you to hear powerful stories about what it’s like to have more than 20 years of life after transplant. Two lung recipients, Jane Long and Howell Graham, who both got their second chance MORE than 20 years ago tell us about the full life they’ve been gifted because someone said yes to being an organ, eye and tissue donor. Then we honor hero Elliot Hardy and answer a listener’s question to learn more about longevity after transplant, right here on this Thanksgiving episode of The Gifted Life.
A Deputy Gives the Gift of Life
Release Date 11/10/2017
Show Notes: On this episode of The Gifted Life a remarkable story about one person’s passion to give the gift of life. One of our guest on this episode is Deputy Andre Ardeneaux and you’ll hear why his pursuit to help others saved another deputy’s life through living donation. How does the process of living donation work? Ochsner social worker, Amy Ronnenburg joins us in studio to outline the steps of living donation. Plus we honor hero, Fred Hart, and answer a listener’s question about living donation right here on The Gifted Life Podcast.
Organ Donation Gets Healthy Schmelthy
Release Date 10/27/2017
Show Notes: This episode features LOPA’s own Shawn-Paul Harrison who shares his inspiration for the Trail Run for Life, now going on it’s fourth year. Then we are joined by fellow podcaster, Rishi Bee, in this special crossover episode. His podcast, Healthy Schmelthy, is the fanciest-schmanciest public health podcast and we partner with Rishi to answer his questions and demystify organ, eye and tissue donation. We honor hero Gene LaBorde and Joy Roussel from Southern Eye Bank is in studio to answer a listener’s question about directed eye donation. Right here on episode 68 of The Gifted Life.
A Question of Faith: The Movie
Release Date 10/13/2017
Show Notes: In this episode of The Gifted Life Podcast our hosts chat with T.C. Stallings, one of the stars in the faith-based movie A Question of Faith. The movie centers around three families whose lives become intertwined following a series of tragedies. Go to organdonor.gov to learn more about donation and religion. Donate Life America is encouraging people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors in support of the movie’s message about the power of donation. You’ll also hear about a very special 5K race, we honor Hero Bill Martinez, and answer a listener’s question on episode 67 of The Gifted Life Podcast.
National DMV Appreciation Week
Release Date 9/29/2017
Show Notes: On this episode we salute our partners in donation throughout the country by celebrating National DMV Appreciation Week. Hear about bells ringing in South Carolina DMVs and how these sounds are spurring an uptick in organ, eye and tissue donation registrations when we talk to Donate Life South Carolina’s Tracy Moore, and the state’s DMV director Colonel Kevin Shwedo about their award winning program, Bells for Life. Then, a DMV employee (in Louisiana it’s OMV) shares his personal story and why saying YES at your DMV can heal someone like him. Plus, we honor hero Andrew Kennedy and answer a listener’s question right here on episode 66 of The Gifted Life Podcast.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.