This Thing Called Life

Episode 19: How Organ Donation Has Touched My Life with Missy Holiday

April 27, 2021

Host Andi Johnson introduces the listeners to powerful stories about organ, eye, and tissue donations. In this episode, Andi talks to Missy Holiday, who has spent around 28 years in organ, eye, and tissue donation.


Episode Highlights: 

  • Andi reminds listeners that April is “National Donate Month”. This is the best month to learn about organ, life, and tissue donation.
  • Missy talks about her career path of almost three decades. She went to nursing school and had a goal to become a pediatric nurse.
  • After a couple of years, her sister had a car accident. She was air-lifted to the University of Cincinnati Hospital, where all attempts to save her life failed. 
  • Upon entering the hospital, Missy and other family members got the news that her sister’s condition was not good. 
  • As a newly graduated nurse, Missy had some exposure to donations. Missy was really young back then and she had never imagined that donation would touch her life. She couldn’t have been more wrong. 
  • After conducting several tests, the doctors informed the family that Missy’s sister was brain dead. 
  • Her family said “YES” to organ donation and this changed Missy’s career path.
  • In 1993, 2 years after her sister passed away, she joined Life Center because she wanted to be a part of the change. 
  • She wanted to change how families are approached for this rare opportunity of organ donation.
  • Joining Life Center, Missy shared her story with the leadership and raised the concern that other families might not consider donation because of how they are approached.  
  • Over the years, she has ensured that requesters at the Life Center go through very extensive training. 
  • Requesters at the Life Center make sure families have a complete understanding of their loved one’s condition. 
  • Missy joined The Life Center in 1993 when only 12-15 people worked there, and now they have 80+.
  • Families often hesitate to donate organs, either due to misconceptions or grief. 
  • When it comes to organ donation, the base myth that Missy hears the most is that - the hospital will not do everything to save his/her life if a person opts for organ donation.
  • Recently Life Center was involved in the “first-ever organ recovery”. They were able to recover a heart for transplantation from a donor, which was impossible. This donor was able to save six people. 
  • COVID does not exclude someone from becoming a donor. People working at Life Center look at every case individually. 
  • “Honor Walks” were introduced at Life Center 3 years ago. They wanted to honor the gifts and make sure that the families feel that. 
  • When it comes to work-life balance, Missy credits her husband. Her parents and kids are proud of what she does. 
  • The Life Center serves 35 hospitals in the greater Cincinnati area, and they work closely with several partners to make sure that the entire process of organ donation is respectful and supportive.  


3 Key Points:

  1. Missy talks about her personal experience with organ donation. Her sister had a fatal accident and after conducting several tests, was declared brain dead. Initially, the diagnosis was confusing for the family because her body was warm and other body parts were functioning. 
  2. Requesters at the Life Center ensure that empathy is central to their discussion when talking to families about donations. It is not about somebody who is in need. It is about knowing that this can comfort a family in the days and months ahead. 
  3. Life center is celebrating 40 years of serving the community and the nation. As a veteran at the Life Center, Missy talks about the most significant changes since she joined. 

Resources Mentioned:

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App