Seton Hill University is 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 advocate for organ donation and celebrate the 10th anniversary of Brittany’s transplant surgery. The events, including a Mass and a community picnic, begin on May 1 and end on May 4th – the 10th anniversary of Brittany’s heart transplant.
“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.”
The week of Organ Donation Celebration and Awareness activities runs from May 1 through May 4 and includes the following activities:
- On Monday, May 1, Brittany will share her story at a Bonfire that begins at 8:30 p.m. on the McKenna Center Lawn on campus.
- On Tuesday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Multicultural and International Student Organization at Seton Hill will host an information table about organ, tissue and cornea donation for students, faculty and staff.
- A Mass dedicated to organ donors and recipients will be held at noon on Wednesday, May 3 in St. Joseph Chapel on the third floor of the Seton Hill Administration Building. Local residents impacted by organ donation are welcome to attend. Attendees will be given pinwheels – a symbol of organ donation – to plant in the ground on campus.
- On Thursday, May 4, Seton Hill will celebrate Brittany’s 10-year heart transplant anniversary with a community picnic from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sullivan Lawn. A formal program that will include testimonials from local transplant recipients will begin at noon. Community members impacted by organ donation are invited to attend.
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.”
The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States. CORE works closely with donor families and designated health care professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissues and corneas for transplantation. CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs and placement of corneas. With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 163 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, New York. For more information, visit www.core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.