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Organ Recipient and Father of Organ Donor Visit Greenspring to Share their Stories

September 2, 2011

An organ donor program has been initiated by the residents at the community in partnership with the Washington Regional Transplant Community

SPRINGFIELD, VIRGINIA - A group of residents at Greenspring retirement community is banding together to encourage other residents to "donate life".  The Greenspring Health Services Committee, a subcommittee of the community's Resident Advisory Council, recently began an organ, eye, and tissue donor initiative in partnership with the Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC).

Eck Muessig, Greenspring resident and chair of the Health Services Committee, is leading the initiative at the community.  "Many seniors think they are too old to donate their organs," said Muessig, "but that's not true."
A Gallup national survey of attributes and behaviors relating to organ and tissue donation conducted in 2005 showed that 20.13% of people over 65 think they are too old to donate an organ.  However, organ condition is more important than one's age when it comes to suitability for donation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Bonnie Leahey, the recipient of a kidney from a 70-year-old, visited Greenspring to share her story in an interview on the community's television station.  Leahey experienced kidney failure in 1999 and after being on dialysis for over four years, received a kidney from a 70-year-old retired nurse.  According to Leahey, her donor was healthy enough to donate not just a kidney, but also tissue, bone, and skin to others in need.  "I feel a very deep responsibility to house this kidney," said Leahey, who keeps in touch with the donor's family.
Ken Ivey also visited Greenspring along with Leahey; he shared the story of his daughter, Erin, who tragically passed away at age 14.  After an accident on Thanksgiving Day in 2008, Erin showed no sign of brain activity and the family agreed to organ donation. After a family meeting, Ivey said they came to the conclusion that "this is what Erin would want."  Because she was so healthy, Erin was able to donate several organs including her heart; the Ivey's have met the young boy who received it.  "I've always been an advocate for organ donation, but I had never thought about it for any of my children," said Ivey.  Ivey is now working on an initiative to assist minors in applying to be organ donors.
The Health Service Committee at Greenspring has informed residents about how to sign up to become a donor and is also encouraging employees to do the same.  John Ogden, the WRTC Manager of Public Affairs and Community Education, indicates that there are now almost 100 million registered donors in the U.S. However, with over 112,000 people waiting for organ donation according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, donors are still needed.
About Greenspring:  Greenspring, one of 16 Erickson Living full-service retirement communities, is situated on a scenic 108-acre campus in Springfield, Virginia.  The community is home to 2000 residents, many of which reside in the 1405 independent living units. At Greenspring, a robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average.  Life at Greenspring offers a true sense of community and is an exciting alternative to the typical retirement community.  Additional information about Greenspring can be found at