You could be someone’s hero

March 17, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

HDHero Organ Donation Kyle

Jill Zuleg’s life changed forever in October 2010, when her son, Kyle died in a freak, tragic accident.

Kyle, 16, was playing flashlight tag in the woods when a large, heavy tree branch fell on him from 40 feet up.

Jill Zuleg, a nurse at Edward Hospital, immediately began CPR on her son. Kyle was taken to a hospital trauma center, but the high school junior suffered a lethal spinal cord injury and was unable to be resuscitated. Kyle was ultimately declared brain dead. His family donated his organs, an act that saved five people.

Kyle’s family shared this on the website for the Kyle Zuleg Foundation:

Through his own death Kyle became a HERO. 7 organs. 5 recipients. We have met and been in touch with 3 of Kyle’s recipients. Sue is someone who received one of Kyle’s gifts. Kyle cured her diabetes with his gift of a kidney and pancreas transplant. He saved her from going on dialysis. Sue is a wonderful person. Considering we have diabetes in our family this was especially touching. Kyle shines on; lives on through her. His legacy of truly being a HERO will never be forgotten and we will remember and acknowledge that forever. Kyle's other recipients include a 45 year old man from Illinois who received Kyle's big, beautiful heart, a 25 year old man from Pennsylvania who received Kyle's lungs, a 48 year old man from Illinois who received Kyle's liver, and a 18 year old man from Illinois who received Kyle's right kidney. 

Here are some facts about organ donation:

  • An average of 20 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.
  • There are 106,000+ people in the U.S. who are waiting for an organ transplant.
  • While 95% of American adults support organ donation, only 58% are registered.
  • Only 1% of deaths occur in a manner which allows for donation to take place, so the more donors who are registered, the greater the opportunity to help others.

By becoming a registered organ and tissue donor, your gift could someday help to:

  • Save up to 8 lives through organ donation
  • Restore sight in up to 2 people through eye donation
  • Heal more than 75 people through tissue donation

April is National Donate Life Month, a time to shine a spotlight on organ and tissue donation and encourage people to register as donors.

According to Gift of Hope — a not-for-profit organ procurement organization that coordinates organ and tissue donation and provides donor family services and public education in Illinois and northwest Indiana — the number of people waiting for donor organs continues to grow. This is why it’s important to be an organ donor. 

Gift of Hope estimates nearly 4,000 people in Illinois are waiting for lifesaving organs, and thousands more Illinoisans will need life-enhancing tissue transplants at some point in their lives. One donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 25 people.

The Kyle Zuleg Foundation (Kyleshineson.org) provides monogrammed “Forever in our Hearts” blankets to all families who consent to organ donation. Kyle’s blankets are providing warmth, comfort and support to all families in the Gift of Hope affiliated hospitals in Illinois and Northwest Indiana.

The Mayo Clinic responds to some myths about organ donation in this article. It’s a worth a read if you’re on the fence about being an organ donor.

Edward-Elmhurst Health is proud to partner with Gift of Hope and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) to help increase awareness about the importance of donation. By adding your name to the donor registry today, you will be helping to save and enhance the lives of more than 25 people and leave a lifesaving legacy for your loved ones.

Join our commitment to save lives. Register as an organ and tissue donor today.

Learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation.

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