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Coffee House Open Mic Poetry Reading by Jason Sprawka and Bob Merion
Listen to donor families, transplant recipients and healthcare professionals read poems, share memories, and celebrate the "Gift of Life" (1 hr 34 minutes)
by David Katz and Bob Merion
From Both Sides by Mark Gravel
Heroes of a Different Kind by Mark Gravel

From Both Sides
by Mark Gravel


Chris Branch's experience as both a recipient and donor mother lends a unique perspective when it comes to organ donation and transplantation.

After sustaining some injuries that required surgical intervention Chris's nine-year-old son James developed renal failure. "I think James received his first dialysis treatment on December 25, 1992," said Chris. James was eventually placed on the local and national transplant waiting list.

This is a story about the curve balls life throws us and a mother who has seen donation and transplant from both sides of the fence.


Chris stated that James was unhappy with having to receive dialysis. She remembered the time when James was asked to draw a picture of his favorite hobby. James instead drew a picture of his "arm with two dialysis lines sticking out." James later explained to his mother that this was not his favorite hobby but instead all it seemed he was able to do.

James was 13 years old when he did receive his kidney transplant. His mother said he loved to play tennis and dreamed of competing at Wimbeldon one day. Following the transplant, James was full of hope and promise. Chris still remembers the day her son said; "I have a life again!"

As was said at the start of this article, invariably life can and will throw some curve balls. Three years later, James suddenly became acutely ill. After multiple tests and a "brain scan," James was declared dead on May 5, 1996. Having first hand knowledge regarding the importance and need for organ and tissue donation, Chris consented to donation.

Chris describes herself as an active member of the Donor Network of Arizona and is a strong advocate for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. "My son has given sight to two people and lives on in some way. After all, we can't use the organs after we die," said Chris. Chris has also contributed a panel section on the donor quilt to honor her son James.

Chris is attending the 2000 U.S. Transplant Games as a member of Team Arizona with her mother, Margaret Knattrup. This is Margaret's first time to the Transplant Games. Chris said that her mother, who will turn 85 this July 20, was so excited after watching the opening ceremonies she used a word Chris had never heard her use before.

"It was awesome!"

Even having been involved in several Transplant Games, Chris is still overwhelmed when she sees all the donor families and recipients, having lived on both sides of the fence.


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Listen to our audio recording of the donor recognition ceremonies.
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