Ryan Joseph Landers, just two weeks past his 19th birthday, was involved in an auto crash on Easter Weekend, 2007, in Springfield, IL, where we’d lived since 1997. April 6, Good Friday, he was in the head-on collision on his way to one of his part-time jobs. The next day he was pronounced brain dead. On Easter Sunday, April 8, the organ and tissue recovery teams spent 8 hours with him. Over time, Ryan’s Donor Legacy stands at 68 organs and tissue items to 61 recipients in 12 states and Korea. The youngest recipient was a 4-month old boy and the eldest an 87 years old man. A 23-year old man in Minnesota received 5 skin grafts. We’ve met the man who received Ryan’s right kidney and pancreas, which was nearly a 100% match. He was 39 at the time and was losing his 26-year battle with diabetes.
Ryan heard the donation message in his Driver’s Education class at Springfield, HS in 2004 at age 16. He told us about his desire to be a donor and we always quote him: “What sense does it make not to?” In the past 2 years, Illinois has once again opened the Donor Registry to 16-17 year old’s and 90,000 have responded enthusiastically since January 2018.
My wife Pat and I have dedicated ourselves to volunteer work on behalf of Gift of Hope and the IL Donor Registry since 2008. We honor Ryan’s legacy. We’ve begun our 12th year of classroom presentations to Driver’s Education students at Springfield HS, and we estimate that we’ve reached nearly 4,000 students in this way. We’ve put ourselves out there with TV and radio appearances; feature articles in our local daily newspaper and a bi-monthly magazine. We made an appearance with the recipient and his family at AlloSource in Denver, CO, at their 2011 Annual Meeting. AlloSource processed and distributed all of Ryan’s tissue donations.
Since2014 we’ve co-produced a :30 Public Service Announcement in partnership with a local Hyundai Dealership donating the production support and airtime. This runs throughout April-National Donate Life Month. We have volunteers and speakers on camera to share their connection with donation.
I wish to help KODA in Western Kentucky connecting with other Donor Families and Volunteers and to promote the work of KODA.