Stories of Hope

Donor Family
Dalhart, Texas

Omar Williams
Organ & Tissue Donor
Aug. 14, 2008 – Feb. 4, 2009

Walter Williams is a family man. With five children, one grandchild and one soon-to-be stepdaughter with his fiancée, Catrina Sisneros, he provides for his family as a night shift supervisor for a heavy equipment company. Walter also knows the pain of losing a child. His son, Omar, passed away at just 6 months old from a respiratory illness in 2009.

Living Donor & Wife 
Daughter / Kidney Recipient 
Spring, Texas

Ross Witty is a huge sports fan; he’s spent the majority of his life collecting sports memorabilia. But the team that’s most important to him is his family. So when his 12-year-old daughter, Kimmy, was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney condition, he jumped into action.

Double-Lung & Kidney Recipient
Cypress, Texas

Melvin Morrison didn’t even realize he was sick – at first.

Melvin was an active man. After 15 years as a program director for the YMCA, he went on to teach high school English, coach football and girls’ basketball, and conduct driver license examinations. He was also always helping strangers – stopping to help them with their broken-down vehicles, giving rides and buying meals or gifts during the holidays for those who couldn’t afford them.

Double-Lung Recipient – Waiting for a Second Transplant
Houston, Texas

Karlie Sageth de Mejia was diagnosed with asthma at 6 months old. As she grew up, she struggled to keep up with her twin, Sara. Asthma medication seemed to work for other kids but not for her. She was frequently so sick that she missed school.

Waiting for a Kidney
Fort Worth, Texas

Jill Kolb isn’t letting a rare kidney disease stop her from helping as many people as she can.

Donor Family
Humble, Texas

Jorge Tamez
Organ & Tissue Donor
July 11, 1989 – Sept. 11, 2017

Jorge Tamez was born a servant leader. He was constantly supporting and encouraging everyone around him – whether helping with financial needs or just lifting everyone’s spirits with his charisma, jokes and music. His motto was “¡Ánimo raza!” which means, “Cheer up, people!”

Liver Recipient
Newark, Texas

Gary Garcia was told he had two weeks to live.

In 2007, he was diagnosed as HIV-positive, and the resulting antiretroviral medication eventually destroyed his gallbladder – which meant his liver would have to filter all the toxins in his body. It took its toll and interfered with Gary’s sleep. Doctors prescribed yet another medication for sleep, but that was more than his body could take.

Physician, UTHealth McGovern Medical School and Memorial Hermann-TMC
Physician Donation Advocate & Registered Donor 
Houston, Texas

Dr. George W. Williams has seen firsthand what organ and tissue donation can do; he’s cared for both organ donors and recipients throughout his career as a critical care physician and anesthesiologist. He has worked to champion donation at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC) and is a member of the LifeGift Medical Advisory Board.

Donor Mother
Fort Worth, Texas

Cassandra “Cassie” Contreras
Organ & Tissue Donor
Dec. 29, 1999 – June 27, 2017

Cornea & Kidney Recipient
Fort Worth, Texas

Iona Smith has been on both sides of the organ and tissue donation story – as a donor family member and as a recipient.

While in her early forties, Iona had keratoconus: a progressive eye disease that causes the cornea to weaken and become cone-shaped. She wore contacts and glasses as long as she could but eventually became legally blind.

A cornea transplant in each eye restored her vision, and she became her independent self once more.

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