Thursday, October 15, 2009

Act of Kindness

Dear Friends,
I wanted to share with you something that happen to me tonight at work. A lady came up to me and said "Terrie I'm so glad that you are here. I wanted to thank you for all your work you have done with organ donation and sharing Bambi's story. I have followed it from the beginning. I know that because of all your hard work I am alive today. I received a kidney transplant 8 months ago." We were both in tears and I was speechless. She said I just want to give you a hug and thank you. We talked for a few more minutes through tears and shared some more hugs. I am so touched by her act of kindness by coming in and telling me this. It means so much to me. This was a woman that I worked with 8 years ago. I am truly thankful that I'm Bambi's mother.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bambi Chugg Thomas Epilogue

On the Donate Life Utah! Blog, Michelle Bruno interviewed my mom, Terrie, and wrote this nice article.
Take a look at the Donate Life Blog. It has a lot of heartwarming stories from other families and events going on in Utah in the Organ Donation Community.

Bambi Chugg Thomas Epilogue

Posted in Personal Stories by michellebruno on the October 6, 2009

Tags: , , ,

After seven years, Terrie Chugg still cries when she talks about her daughter Bambi Chugg Thomas. They are tears of sorrow for the loss of a daughter, a wife and a mother. A video of Bambi on the Donate Life Utah home page tells the story of a vibrant young woman, 24 years old, and about to have her first child when illness strikes and her eight-month wait for a new heart begins.

Bambi was born and raised in Roy, Utah, Terrie says. She was a 1997 graduate of Roy High School and the following year, she competed in the Miss Utah Pageant as “Miss Roy.” She was a spokes model for Standard Optical and no stranger to the camera her mom says. She married her husband Danny when they both graduated from Weber State University and became pregnant a short time later with daughter Ellie who was born on Christmas Eve the following year.

Like so many, Bambi’s story has a tragic ending. Three weeks after Ellie arrived, Bambi’s doctors told her she needed a heart transplant due to complications from the pregnancy. Despite her optimism and the artificial heart that kept her alive while she waited, the new heart never arrived and, ironically, Bambi herself became an organ donor.

The idea of the Bambi Chugg Thomas Healing Hearts Foundation came from Bambi, Terrie says. She used the foundation as a springboard to spread the word about the desperate need for organ donors. Even in her weakened condition, Bambi visited schools to tell the story of organ donation before she lost her own fight. The Standard Examiner newspaper asked to do a story about Bambi and were so smitten with her energy, they also produced the video about her that appears on the Donate Life Utah site.

Despite her family’s loss, Bambi’s legacy lives on. Besides the foundation, established in February of 2002, the video has been translated into French and German and continues to travel the world online via YouTube. Terrie believes that Bambi’s story is a poignant one. “Hers is the face of organ transplant. We were lucky because she was at the right place at the right time [to offer her own message] and had people that loved her,” Terrie says.

Bambi’s family helps to keep her memory alive through the foundation. They helped to build a monument to honor organ donors at Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City. They have supported people waiting for transplants with living expenses and paid for the funeral expenses of a little boy whose father was self-employed and couldn’t afford it. Each year at Christmas, they visit the Intermountain Medical Center and deliver baskets to families waiting for organ donations.

Terrie Chugg thinks about what Bambi would want people to know if she were here today. “Bambi herself said, ‘we’ve all carved our names in a tree, we’ve all left our mark in sand. I’m wondering what kind of mark I’ll leave.” Terrie recalls. “Being a donor is leaving your mark,” she adds.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Schools sign on for donor drive

Schools sign on for donor drive
By Wendy Leonard

Deseret News
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 11:27 p.m. MDT

Ten of 11 of the largest colleges and universities in Utah have signed on to drum up as much organ donation support as possible. The exception is Brigham Young University, which had to bow out due to the competitive nature of the activity.

In a letter concerning the collegiate initiative Donate Life Utah 2009, BYU Student Life Vice President Janet Scharman said that unless the organizers can confirm it is not a competition among schools, requiring the generation of a list of names, the private school cannot participate.
All nine public institutions and Westminster College, however, have pledged to do all they can to grow the, online registry list of organ donors in the state of Utah by at least 9,000. The school generating the most new donors by Oct. 24, National Make a Difference Day, will receive $9,000 in scholarship money. Representatives from nearly all of the higher education institutions participating accepted $1,000 checks Wednesday to help kick off donation drive efforts at each of their schools.

"The power to make things happen lies within our youth," said David Nemelka, president of the Quest for the Gift of Life Foundation, which is sponsoring the event. "We are asking students to help save lives and make a difference."

Nemelka believes that Utah, which has already led the charge in organ donation in the country, will break records if college and university students come together for the cause. He said that online networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook will help to accomplish the goal like never before.

"We could not have done this five years ago," he said. "We now live in the digital age and college students are the volunteer army that can and wants to make a difference."
University of Utah student body President Tayler Clough said he willingly checked "yes" on his driver's license application at age 16, "just to make my parents mad." But since then, he said, they've come around and understand the positive influence an organ donor can have.
"It makes even more sense to me now," Clough said. "It's cool to know that if you die, you're still going to be useful to someone."

Mallory Wahlstrom, BYU student and recent winner of the Miss Kaysville pageant, knows that usefulness first-hand after becoming a good Samaritan donor and giving a kidney to her older brother, Davis High School history teacher Andy Wahlstrom, just four weeks ago.

"When my brother's kidneys failed, it was a life-or-death situation," she said, adding that it caused her to have a change of heart and instantly become a donor. "It was very painful and difficult to watch my brother suffer. … He was a changed person from the very day the surgery was done."

The pageant queen competed while still in a very weakened condition, just one week following the surgery, supporting a platform of organ donation and winning the crown.

"It was a small price to pay for my brother's life," Wahlstrom said.

Overall, the students hope to generate more understanding for the organ donation program, mostly that volunteer donors won't be pressured into giving up what they have inside, which Clough said he has found to be a big concern.

More than 103,000 people in the U.S. are currently waiting for an organ transplant, with nearly 380 of them in Utah, 16 of whom are under 17 years old, according to Intermountain Donor Services. Their records indicate that 18 patients die every day while waiting for transplant organs.

One person can potentially save nine lives by donating a healthy heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small intestine.

"A registration drive of this magnitude will set a new national standard, but more importantly, it will help save the lives of those waiting for an organ transplant," Nemelka said. By achieving their goal, he said more Utahns will receive a second chance at life.

"We are our brother's keeper and this can be solved if we work together," he said. "It takes the whole community."
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