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Seton Hill Raises Organ Donation Awareness

Seton Hill University partnering with the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) and Seton Hill student Brittany Grimm, a heart transplant recipient, to hold a week of campus events that advocated for organ donation and celebrated the 10th anniversary of Brittany’s transplant surgery. The events, including a Mass and a community picnic, began on May 1 and end on May 4th – the 10th anniversary of Brittany’s heart transplant.

A Tribune-Review article about Brittany and Seton Hill's efforts can be found here.

“Many people at Seton Hill know my story because I am very vocal about the importance of organ donation. I would have died if I hadn’t received a new heart," said Brittany, an Erie, Pa. native who is studying communication at Seton Hill. "In the 10 years since, I’ve been able to live a full life – graduating from middle school, high school, going to college, and even participating in the Transplant Games. The gift of a stranger has enabled me to live my life to the fullest, and I am called to spread the word about the importance of organ donation.”

“Brittany Grimm is an excellent example of a Seton Hill student dedicated to serving others,” said Seton Hill President Mary C. Finger, Ed.D. “Her personal story of the importance of organ donation spurred her to take action and continues to inspire others 10 years later. All of us at Seton Hill are proud to join in her tremendous advocacy for organ donation and to celebrate this important milestone in her life.”

“Since her transplant 10 years ago, Brittany has lived every day to the fullest. And she knows that she owes her life to the generosity of a donor and their family,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO, Center for Organ Recovery & Education. “That’s one of the reasons she is so passionate. It’s her way of honoring those who made this second chance possible. She is a donation champion in the truest sense of the word. We are thankful for her continued contributions to our cause, and we proudly join in celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her transplant.”

Events included a bonfire, informational events about organ, tissue and cornea donation for students, faculty and staff, a Mass for all people impacted by organ donation and a community picnic to celebrate Brittany’s 10-year heart transplant anniversary.

Brittany was 9-years-old when she became sick with pneumonia, but a chest X-ray revealed an enlarged heart – the result of a restrictive cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart stiffens and does not pump blood effectively. The condition, while serious, was not immediately life-threatening, so doctors monitored Brittany closely. Two years later, doctors put Brittany on the transplant list as her condition had worsened.

On May 4, 2007, Brittany received her new heart at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Her gift came from a 31-year-old man who had suffered a massive seizure. Through the years, Brittany has written letters that have been forwarded to his family – thanking him, and them, for the gift of life.

“I wouldn’t be here without my donor,” she said. “While I don’t know his name, I want to make him proud. I’m trying to do my part to make people aware of the power of organ donation and make a difference in other lives.”

Photo Credit: Dan Speicher/Tribune-Review