Mon Health employee provides the Gift of Life to friend


MORGANTOWN — When Mon Health employee Correna Smithburger learned an old friend needed a lifesaving kidney donation in 2012, her immediate response was, “I’ll do it.”

After not seeing each other for 15 years, Correna and her old friend finally reconnected on Facebook. This is when Correna learned that she was very ill with kidney disease and unable to find a compatible kidney donor, necessitating years of dialysis. Correna decided then to get tested to see if she was compatible as a donor.

“Each week, I would go for another round of testing and prayed for God to help me while I was driving there,” she said. “The testing would include CT scans, labs, cross matching, antibody testing, cardiology clearance, ultrasounds and having an appropriate weight because recovery can be harder if a donor is too heavy.”

Correna was found to be compatible as a donor, and in her eyes, it was meant to be. Instead of the normal six-to-twelve-month process of testing as an organ donor, Correna began the testing process on August 12, 2012, and the transplantation took place on September 18, 2012, only five weeks. At the time of the transplant, Correna had a 22-month-old son, two older children, and a very supporting and understanding husband.

“My husband, Michael, didn’t think I was serious when I told him, but when reality hit him, he said that if I felt called to do this donation that he would support me,” said Correna.

Both Correna and her friend fully recovered following the surgery. Since then, the recipient’s two children were married, and she became a grandmother. Because of Correna’s gift, she was able to experience these major life events.

Correna’s selfless reaction and ultimate donation highlights the incredible need for more people to register as organ donors. The five hospitals of Mon Health System are working with the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) to sign more donors during the 2022 campaign. According to a 2019 government survey, 90 percent of Americans support organ donation, but only about 50 percent of the adults are actually registered organ and tissues donors. There are 100,000 Americans waiting for a life-saving transplant, 500 of those in West Virginia.

Mon Health System and CORE want to remind the public that just one organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can heal and transform the lives of up to 100.

To learn more about CORE, organ donation, and to register to be a donor today, visit donatelifewv.org.

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