2012 Donate Life Poster & Essay Contest Winners Announced!

Kimberly Devenny of Easton High School is the winner of this year's Donate Life Poster Contest.

The Living Legacy Foundation (LLF), in partnership with Donate Life Maryland, is pleased to announce that Kimberly Devenny of Easton High School in Talbot County and Emily Pipkin of Leonardtown High School in St. Mary’s County are this year’s winners in the Donate

Life Maryland Poster and Essay Contests respectively.The Living Legacy Foundation, one of Maryland’s organ and tissue donor programs, received more than 55 entries for the Donate Life Poster and Essay Contests, which prompted students to create a poster promoting organ, eye and tissue donation or write an essay describing why organ, eye and tissue donors are heroes.The LLF has partnered with Maryland’s high schools to educate as many students as possible so they can make an informed donation decision when they are asked upon obtaining their driver’s license. The annual contests were open to all high-school students in The Living Legacy Foundation’s service area, which includes all counties in Maryland except for Prince George’s,

Montgomery, and Charles Counties.“We are continuously amazed by the talent and creativity of students in Maryland. The posters and essays entries all did a great job promoting organ, eye and tissue donation in a fun and education way,” said Jennifer Gelman, director, of Professional Education for The Living Legacy Foundation. “For the fourth year in a row, we were touched by the personal stories students shared with us, which made choosing a winner particularly difficult for our judges.”

Devenny's winning poster will be displayed in Maryland MVA branches throughout the state.

Devenny’s winning poster will be reproduced and displayed in Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration branch locations throughout the state, and can also be found along with Pipkin’s winning essay  in The Living Legacy Foundation’s organizational newsletter, website, and social media networks. Devenny and Pipkin will also both receive a $500 savings bond for winning the contests. (See the bottom of this post to read Pipkin’s winning essay.)

The Living Legacy Foundation holds annual contests such as the Poster and Essay Contest to bring donation and transplantation to the attention of Maryland’s youths, who will otherwise likely hear of donation for the first time when they are asked if they’d like to register as a donor upon receiving their driver’s license. Currently, only about a third of Maryland’s licensed drivers are designated organ, eye and tissue donors, and more than 2,000 Maryland residents are waiting to receive a life-saving organ transplant. In 2011, 124 Marylanders graciously said yes to organ donation, providing a second chance at life to 385 individuals. In addition, 355 Marylanders generously said yes to tissue donation, which has the potential to enhance the lives of up to 18,000 individuals.

Maryland residents interested in learning more about donation or registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor may visit the Maryland Donor Registry’s website at www.donatelifemaryland.org.

Heroes Exist

By: Emily Pipkin

A hero is someone who is inspiration to all people around them. A hero is someone with extraordinary qualities. Heroes are selfless, brave, and are role models in all aspects of their character. Heroes can also express their true character through acts of sacrifice and having unwavering courage throughout that sacrifice. A hero can be found in the most unexpected places. Heroes are not those who fly around the cities and have super human powers. Heroes are everyday people that go out of their way to help someone in need or even save a life.

A hero in my eyes is the woman who saved my father’s life. My father was riding home from work on his bike when he was seventeen years old and was hit by a passing car. Both of his legs were broken from the accident. During the examination at the hospital they were looking on a sonogram of his back to check for internal bleeding and they could only see one of his kidneys. After some exploratory surgery they found that it wasn’t internal bleeding that was blocking the view of the kidney it just wasn’t there.  It turns out my father had been born with only one kidney and lived just fine with that fully functional kidney for several years.

However, one of the ramifications of the car accident was that one of his legs was about an inch shorter than the other, this caused pain in his hips back and legs. My father’s job required him to be on his feet walking all day long and with this extended time on his feet, he was very achy all the time. He would take Tylenol regularly to relieve the pain. Tylenol is great for relieving pain and swelling but it is filtered through the kidneys and can cause damage to the kidneys if used on a daily or weekly basis. So with the factors of having only one kidney for his entire life, taking Tylenol regularly and having slightly high blood pressure, my father went into kidney failure.

You cannot live without your kidneys. Your kidneys are a vital organ that filter your blood. Without a kidney transplant, my father would have a significantly shorter life and have to be on dialysis for the rest of his life. Dialysis requires you to be hooked to a machine that filters your blood 3-5 times a day for about half an hour each time. My father’s health was declining fast and he was put on the kidney transplant waiting list.

Being on the transplant list is a great step to receiving a transplant, but it can still take years to find a blood type match and actually set up a donation. In an effort to speed up the process my family reached out to all our friends and family about the need for a kidney transplant. Over seventy of our friends and family got tested, but all either had health complications that prevented them from being able to donate a kidney or they had the wrong blood type. One person who was tested was a perfect match; Helen Wernecke had all the correct attributes of being great candidate for donating a kidney to my father.

We met Helen when we moved to our church around twenty years ago. She is an inspiring woman who is defiantly considered a hero by all who know her. Not only is Helen as hero but the whole Wernecke family displays traits of true heroes. They all showed that they are courageous, selfless and caring beyond everyday circumstances. The way that Helen showed strength through the testing and health trials of pre-transplant surgery already makes her a hero. Helen had a health scare with a cancerous looking nodule during the testing process, but she was more concerned about my father not getting what he need than her own health. Luckily the nodule was not cancer and was not a health threat by any means.

Helen Wernecke donated a kidney to my father on October 3, 2007. I was at the hospital with my family and the Wernecke family on the day of the transplant surgery and the amount of fear that we all had was nothing compared to the surprisingly good spirit she was in. She showed no fear or wavering in her decision to donate her kidney. After the surgery, we went back to see them both. My dad immediately looked like he was in excellent health. He had better color and a smile on his face.  Helen will forever be a hero to my family.

By donating her kidney, Helen didn’t just save my father life, which is a selfless act within itself, she save my family and she brought two families into a bond that is lifelong. Every year when we get together on October 3rd, I thank her for what she has done. By donating an organ you change not only a life but a whole community.

By being on the donor list, you can save many lives and impact a change on people that will never be forgotten. “Be one. Save many.”

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About Lauren

Lauren Muskauski is the communications associate at The Living Legacy Foundation. She heads up many community outreach initiatives and projects, with a focus on middle school, high school and college outreach. She also manages The LLF’s and Donate Life Maryland’s presence on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Lauren’s commitment to donation started early when she registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor at the MVA upon receiving her first drivers’ license, but was then reinforced a few years later when her father passed away while waiting for a liver transplant. Now, she continues to be inspired on a daily basis by the generosity of donors and their families, as well as the gratitude exhibited by every recipient she meets.
This entry was posted in Donate Life Maryland, Essay Contest, High School, Living Donation, MVA, Poster Contest. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 2012 Donate Life Poster & Essay Contest Winners Announced!

  1. lauren sanson says:

    If only everyone knew these stories. And knew the impact of what saving a life means! Its a hard but rewarding journey. My son was an organ donor at 2 months of age. I enjoy seeing stories like this! My son is what inspired me to be an organ donor today and he is also the reason why I want a life long career helping ppl donate lives! Ppl who receive these kind of bonds know a bond like no other. Many ppl cannot understand the emotional concept it leaves behind. True meaning of legacy!

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