Dan's life changed forever in the summer of 2008. It was an early June morning when he came downstairs to see his wife Lori's coffee cup on the kitchen table. When he found her sitting on the floor of the bathroom he knew the blank stare in her eyes meant something was terribly wrong.
A trained firefighter, Dan called for help before trying to resuscitate his wife. After being taken to the hospital, doctors determine Lori had suffered a massive brain aneurysm and there was no chance for a meaningful life.
In a state of disbelief at his wife's prognosis, Dan was approached by the Wisconsin Donor Network, a service line of BloodCenter of Wisconsin. They asked Dan if he and his family wished to donate Lori's organs.
Dan quickly remembered the life-saving gift his sister-in-law had received a few years earlier. A new kidney and liver gave her the second chance at life their family had so anxiously hoped for.
After that experience, the importance of organ donation was not lost on anyone in Dan's family.
"Lori and I had discussed organ donation a little bit, but never in our wildest dreams did we think one of us would end up in a position like this," he said.
The decision to donate came very quickly for Dan and his sons. A short time later they were informed of the lives her donation had been able to save.
Lori's organs saved three patients that fateful day in June. Her lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas allowed complete strangers to continue living their lives. Losing Lori was incredibly difficult for Dan, but donating her organs added a sense of purpose, a reason behind the heartbreaking loss.
But Dan's story does not end there. A loyal blood donor, Dan has been giving blood since the 80s and in 2011 he decided he wanted give back in even more ways. Dan started speaking publically about his loss and the importance of organ donation through the Wisconsin Donor Network. Today, he continues to spread his message and encourages people to not only join the registry but have a conversation with their families.
"I think everybody really needs to join the registry. This is one of those things you really don't want to put off. People need to have a discussion with their loved ones about donation. The fact that people sit down and discuss the pluses and minuses of donation ahead of time makes that situation so much easier on everybody," Dan said.
If you've decided you would like to donate your organs, tissue and eyes, make your wishes known.