Judy’s caring spirit, amazing smile and resounding laugh drew people to her. She was always there to lend a helping hand, provide an ear to listen and to give a smile that would brighten a cloudy day. Her career had always matched her personality. She chose to work with children first in a childcare setting and later, after completing a Masters program, she worked in a classroom environment. While focusing on her students’ strengths, she enjoyed actively engaging her students in the learning process.

So it was alarming when she became easily exhausted at the smallest activity. When she went to her doctor, her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was shocking for her family. Judy had always been so vibrant and full of life, and it was shocking to see her go downhill so fast.

The time from her diagnosis to her death was extremely difficult and fast, just giving her family a few weeks to process what was happening. Judy’s niece Sharon, said, “I didn’t ask or bring up organ donation even though I am a huge proponent. Between dealing with her diagnosis, the fast progression (from diagnosis to death) and family members who were in varying different stages of the grief process - I just did not know how to approach the topic. I also wasn’t sure she could be a donor with her diagnosis of cancer.” Luckily Sharon did not have bring the question up, because Judy had already taken care of it. “I was shocked and thrilled at the same time to find out that Judy not only signed the donor form upon admittance to the hospital, but also that they could actually fulfill her wishes and give the gift of sight to another” says Sharon. She could safely donate her corneas.

Knowing that Judy had become a donor gave her family a bit of relief from the pain of losing her. After Judy’s death they were able to use Judy’s corneas to give the gift of sight to another. “I know her husband Aaron finds solace in the fact Judy was able to help another,” says Sharon, “ and I know it helps Judy’s mom Irene know that her final gift gave hope to someone else. Compassion was at the core of Judy’s being, so it seems right that it would also be her final act.”

We thank Judy’s family for sharing her story of hope. As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, we honor Judy and all those who have given this most precious gift to others. You are our heroes and we stand in gratitude.

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