The Powerful Gift Of An Organ Transplant

By Dr. Stephen Kula, President/CEO, Legacy of Life Hawaii

Five years ago, Sarah Chee was told she had less than two weeks to live because of a failing liver. Three months later Sarah and her fiance Marc were married, thanks to an organ donor.


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Dr. Stephen Kula

In 2002, 19-year old Josh Rosen was in the intensive care unit at Straub Hospital, dying of a rare liver disorder. Time was running out, and his parents were praying for a miracle. Three days later Josh received a liver transplant. Today Josh is a robust, healthy husband and father of two.

As the only federally designated organization in Hawaii authorized to recover organs and tissue for transplant, Legacy of Life Hawaii understands that for every transplant recipient rejoicing at a second chance at life, there is another family grieving the loss of a loved one.

These loved ones thoughtfully checked the “yes” box when applying for a driver’s license or a state ID, or took the time to register online to be an organ and tissue donor at

In some cases, it is the family who makes this decision. In the midst of great tragedy, they look beyond their own sadness and offer hope to others.

A key part of our mission at Legacy of Life Hawaii is to honor each and every organ and tissue donor who has given the gift of life. Our caring team of family services coordinators provide immediate support to the donor’s family in the hospital and ongoing support through our aftercare program.

Right now in Hawaii, about 450 people are in end-stage organ failure, waiting for a life-saving organ. Nationally there are almost 125,000 people in the same condition.

Millions more are in need of life-restorative tissue for abdominal repairs, burn dressings, bone fractures, heart valves, veins for cardiac surgery, the list goes on.

Two years after her transplant, Chee achieved another milestone as the first liver transplant recipient to give birth in Hawaii. Today, the Chees are the proud parents of two beautiful girls, Alexandria, 2, and Kailani, 8 months. That’s three lives — all made possible by an organ donor.

Feb. 14 is National Donor Day, a day set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to generate awareness of the need for organ, eye, tissue, bone marrow and blood donation. Everyone has the opportunity to save a life just by registering to be an organ donor.

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