The Gift of Life: Organ Donation Saves Lives

Christina Geisler and her mother, Kathy Geisler

At just 20 years old, Christina Geisler needed a kidney transplant.

It started in late 2010 when the Gillespie native noticed her urine was discolored. In January 2011, she was rushed to the hospital and immediately went on dialysis. She was later diagnosed with Goodpasture’s syndrome, a rare disease where your antibodies attack the kidneys and lungs.

“I lost 20 pounds in no time at all,” she said. “At one point, I just ate ice. It was awful.”

Her mother, 59-year-old Kathy Geisler, decided to donate one of her kidneys once the doctors realized Christina’s own kidney function would not return.

“It was a no-brainer,” Kathy said. “I felt blessed I could do this for her.”

After pre-transplant evaluations, the surgery was performed by Marc Garfinkel, MD, associate professor of surgery at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and surgical director for Memorial Transplant Services. Within a matter of weeks, Christina and Kathy returned to normal activities.

“I just kept thinking how excited I was for my life to go back to normal,” Christina said.

Stories like Christina’s are more common than you may think. According to, a new person is added to the national organ and tissue donation waiting list every 10 minutes. Other staggering stats include:

  •  An average of 18 people die each day while waiting.
  •  More than 8,000 people died nationwide waiting for an organ transplant.
  •  One donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 8 people with an organ donation, 2 people with a cornea donation and 75 people with a tissue donation.

 April is National Donate Life month. Virtually anyone regardless of age, race or gender can become an organ or tissue donor. To learn more about the program, read the frequently asked questions or donation myths and misconceptions at

Nearly 5,000 men, women and children from Illinois are on the organ transplant waiting list. Register today to give them the gift of life.