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Keeping memories alive of loved ones through organ donations

Posted at 5:30 PM, Sep 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-13 18:30:30-04

A local family is mourning the loss of 35-year old Sara Steiner. A deer crashed through the windshield of her car last week as she was driving on Highway 36 near Bennington. Steiner remained on life support at CHI-Bergan Mercy until Wednesday morning, so that doctors could remove her organs. Her family said they take comfort in knowing that she will likely save others.

Nebraska Organ Recovery says there are more than 100,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant. Stephanie Lewis knows that wait all too well. Her whole life changed with one phone call after waiting 30 years for a new kidney, and now she uses her story to inspire others to give. 

"You couldn't prepare for it at 14 at all,” said kidney recipient, Stephanie Lewis. At just 14-years-old she was diagnosed with systemic lupus, an autoimmune disease. And at 17 she was told she would need a new kidney. Lewis said while she did everything she could to slow the deterioration of her kidney within the last five years things had gotten progressively worse. That's when she decided to start dialysis and the process of getting put on the transplant list. Lewis became one of the 114,000 people in the U.S. who are waiting for a transplant. 

Kara Cordell the PR and marketing manager for Nebraska Organ Recovery said that about 56% of the eligible people in the state of Nebraska are registered to be an organ donor. And each of them can save more than one life. "One donor through organs could save up to eight people's lives and then with tissue donation they could, save, or enhance or improve the quality of life for over 100 different people,” said Cordell.

On February 4, 2016, Lewis received news there was a potential kidney match after only being on the transplant list a year and a half. "When they called me, I was really more in disbelief, you know the call will come eventually but you don't know when the call comes,” said Lewis. She got the kidney of Sarah Root, the 21-year-old killed by a drunk driver. She says now the Roots have become her second family. "Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today, so every day I am thankful and grateful to the family that I received a kidney from,” said Lewis. Because of Sarah’s donation, Lewis says her memory will never be forgotten. "That person essentially still lives on through someone else,” said Lewis.

Sara Steiner’s mother Tammy Trahan said this afternoon that she wants the story about to Sara to focus on the good that is coming out of this accident. Going forward she wants to talk about the lives that will be forever changed by Sara’s donations.