My name is Anna and I am here today to tell you my story because of a selfless organ donor!
When I was only 5 weeks old I caught a virus which made my liver, an organ in my body, sick. I had a surgery to extend the life of my liver but the doctors knew it would not last forever. The only cure for me was to get a new liver.
I have lived my life in & out of the doctor’s office. Constantly having lab work, ultrasounds & tests. I would have to miss school a lot, I had trouble keeping up in school, I would itch all the time from my liver not working right, and eventually I got short of breath when I would try to keep up with my friends. When I was 8 years old the doctors put me on a list where I would have to wait for a new liver.
This was when I learned about Organ Donation. The only way I could get a new liver is if someone had registered to be an organ donor before they died. I did not know that there was a shortage of registered donors and because of this, I had to wait 3 years to get a liver transplant. I learned about a lot of other children, just like me who were waiting for life saving transplants.
My family & I decided to get busy by helping to raise awareness for organ donation & help kids like myself. Before transplant I was on a swim team, played tennis & participated in drama classes. My first involvement with fundraisers came when I helped my swim team raise $6,500 for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Pediatric Liver Dept. Our team swam laps to raise money. The following year I decided to help raise money by forming a team & walking for The American Liver Foundation. Team Anna raised $9,800 ! I became the Liver Champion & walked in Louisville & Cincinnati.
In 5th grade a lot of my friends started to ask questions about my condition. They asked why I would miss school & why I was sick a lot. I met a few people who worked with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates. KODA worked me to bring a science program to my school that taught my friends how their bodies work & how to stay healthy. It also talked about a subject that most kids do not know about & that is organ donation. Knowing the facts about organ donation by becoming educated will help solve the organ donor shortage. So that when you are old enough to make the decision to register or not, you know how to make an informed decision. So whenever KODA has a volunteer opportunity for me I cannot wait to help out. I serve as an ambassador to help spread awareness for organ donation.
In May of 2012, the call finally came that the perfect organ for me was available. I had my successful transplant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I realize now more than ever that I have to keep spreading the my story & raise awareness. I am on the road to health & want to do my part to help other people who need transplants.
In July, my swim team & I put on another ”Swim for Hope” event & this time raised over $11,000. The money went to The Satterwhite Fund, which helps transplant patients & their families who cannot afford all of the expenses. In September I was proud to speak & serve as the starter for the”Donate Life” walk in Louisville.
In recognition for all of my efforts I was named a future face of Philanthropy by NFocus magazine. I want to continue to pay it forward by helping other people who are waiting for their second chance. I want to give them hope. I want to show the world that by becoming a registered organ donor that they could possibly save multiple lives someday. I am only 11 but with the help of my family and friends we can make a difference! Even kids have the resources & talents that we can channel for good!!!
Scroll Down to learn more about Anna’s Favorite Charities!
Want to know what superpower Anna would choose and more fun information? Check below!
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More Questions with Anna
1. Have you gotten any friends or family to get involved in your charity work? What have they done?
Yes, My entire family has been very involved with KODA, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, The American Liver Foundation, and now Kosair Children’s Hospital. We have all volunteered our time and raised money through walks and events. Many friends have helped and supported our efforts.
2. Do you have any advice for other kids who want to get involved?
Yes, tell your parents or teachers what ideas you have. They can help you with your efforts by getting you linked with a charity or organization that you believe in.
3. Who are your heroes, in fiction and real life?
Justin Bieber is not only my crush but he is my hero because he is very involved in Make-A-Wish and visiting sick kids in the hospital. He knows how much kids look up to him and he tries to pay it forward by lifting their spirits. I also look up to Jennifer Lawrence because she followed her dreams and is from my hometown, so she seems real to me.
4. What superhero quality would you want to have and why?
If I could have a superpower, I would want to fly. When I was waiting for my transplant my doctors would not allow me to fly. Now that I have my new liver, I can fly. But if I could fly like a superhero, I could help more people in more cities understand the need for organ donors. I could reach more people and reach them faster.
5. What’s your favorite subject in school?
Social Studies. My teacher last year made it really fun.
6. What’s your favorite animal?
Dogs. I have 3 dogs, 2 Labradors and a malshi-poo.
7. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be an actress but I also want to use my influence to help promote organ donation and reach out to sick kids.
8. What’s your favorite fun thing to do with friends?
I like to do hair, make-up and nails. I also like to swim with friends in the summer.
9. What’s your favorite movie or TV show?
Harry Potter movies.
10. Tell me a little bit about your family.
I have two sisters named Gracie and Sarah. I am the middle sister!
11. Is there anything else that you want to tell us about yourself or your cause?
I just want people to know that I am passionate about organ donation because I was lucky enough to get a new organ and have the hope of a promising future. I have been through a lot in eleven years, but I also realize how fortunate I am for so many reasons. Kids go to school to receive an education but sometimes adults can learn from kids too. We can share our ideas and energy to promote good.
Anna’s Favorite Charities!