Mother of organ donor hopes memorial wall will encourage others

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Dianne Towalski
The Visitor

Connie Glazier talked briefly about organ donation with her six children around the time they were all getting their driver’s licenses. They decided not to check the box on the form, and that was that. Glazier didn’t think she would ever have to think about it again.

But she did think about it again on Feb. 2, 2004, when she received a call from St. Cloud Hospital telling her that her 21-year-old son Grant had been in a serious car accident. He had just left a Super Bowl party at the family home in Annandale, she said.

Grant suffered a brain injury from the force of the accident. His family came to pray around him that night and found out the next morning that he wouldn’t survive.

organ donor

Connie Glazier, a member of St. Ignatius Parish in Annandale, stands near the new Honoring the Gift of Life wall at St. Cloud Hospital. To her right is the tribute screen for her son, Grant, who was killed in a car accident in 2004. Photo by Dianne Towalski/The Visitor

Because he had not checked the box on his driver’s license, a representative from LifeSource — the non-profit organization that coordinates organ donations at St. Cloud Hospital — asked Glazier if she would consider donating his organs. At first, her answer was no, although she remembered that Grant had wanted to check the box on his driver’s license but didn’t when she asked him not to.

“I said, ‘No, because, Grant, they won’t work so hard to keep you alive.’ That was my fear,” Glazier said.

This fear is a common one.

“There are still a lot of misconceptions about how the process works,” said Tim Verschaetse, the hospital’s liaison from LifeSource.
People wonder if death will be hastened so organs can be recovered to save someone else. “That does not happen,” he said.

Grant’s siblings were able to change Glazier’s mind.

“I said, ‘No,’ and my kids said, ‘Yes, it’s something Grant would want to do.’ ”

Grant’s heart, pancreas and kidneys helped four people that were waiting for transplants.

Glazier’s experience with the hospital and LifeSource has been a positive one. So much so, that she was asked to be a family member representative on the committee planning a special tribute wall at the hospital to honor those who donated their organs, tissue or eyes.

The “Honoring the Gift of Life: A Tribute to Organ, Tissue and Eye Donors” wall, a nature-themed mosaic designed and created by local artists, was unveiled April 29 and blessed by St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler.

Loved ones can use an interactive computer kiosk next to the mosaic to view tributes and photos of their loved ones.

“We hope that by honoring our donors, we can pay tribute to their legacy and encourage others to consider organ, tissue and eye donation,” the hospital said in a press release.

“It was really awesome to be a part of the wall committee,” Glazier said. “I feel like the wall is a wall of hope.”

She hopes that if people are struggling with donating a loved one’s organs, they will see the wall and make the decision to save lives.

“There probably are misconceptions — the same ones I had,” Glazier said. But by giving people the facts about organ donation, “you can change minds.”

Families that make a decision to donate are not alone. A representative from LifeSource is there to help throughout the process.

“It’s our work to advocate for people who have made that phenomenal decision to help somebody else,” Verschaetse said. “The people who are on the transplant waiting list are people who are waiting for organ transplant or tissue transplant or eye transplant and their only hope is that somebody else decides to donate. Then we do the work to make that happen.”

LifeSource works with hospitals in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and portions of western Wisconsin to place donated organs with people waiting for transplants, educate about organ and tissue donation, register donors and support the families of donors.

The church supports organ donation with the proper consent.

“Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a expression of generous solidarity,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“It has given me a really great faith, going through this,” said Glazier, a member of St. Ignatius Parish in Annandale. “I think it’s like when Jesus is in the boat and [the apostles are] sleeping and he’s right there with them. But they’re still scared because they don’t realize he’s right there with them. For me, it was like I realized, after grasping at everybody for help, that he was there.”