Marty's Message

Save a Life. Become an Organ Donor.

It's life-saving stuff. Ask Geri Whalen. Ask her family. This is their miracle.


The trumpet sounded around dinner time Saturday.

The first message came from Geri's sister, Sondra Hathaway.

"We just got a call from Allegheny General Hospital that they have a kidney for Geri! She is most likely getting a kidney tonight!! They have a match. Geri is finishing her last tables at Pasta Too and we are headed to AGH. Prayers that it all works out!!!"

Twenty-four hours later, more trumpets. First, an amazing picture of Geri on her way to surgery.

Geri giving us a double thumbs-up as they wheel her towards the operating room.

Then, a text from Geri's sister that opened the emotional floodgates .

"Geri is out of surgery!!! The kidney started functioning and making urine immediately! She is still in recovery. The surgeon was so happy with how everything went! It will be a couple hours before we can see her. We are THANKING GOD for this AMAZING REPORT!!!"

A twenty-four hour whirlwind. A multi-year nightmare is over. You remember Geri Whalen? She's 39. Zero kidney function. Zero! You wanna know what that means? 12-15 hours a week on dialysis. Constant pain. Constant worry...stress...even depression . A husband and three kids who can never relax... never have a good night's sleep.

Through it all, Geri smiles. I can't lose hope. I can't let go.

She whispered those words a week or so ago. We stay with her through a 4-and-a-half hour dialysis session. We brought her a cake . We brought her some hope, she told me.

"Look, Marty.Thousands of people die every year waiting for a kidney, about 14 die each day. I just want to be with my family. I just want to be happy."

Geri is amazing...her attitude - fantastic. She fights through the pain, the fatigue. She works. In fact, she works a double shift every Saturday night at a local Italian Restaurant. Imagine that. 13 hours on your feet. Really can't drink water because her kidneys can't handle it.

She raises three children. "This isn't easy for them," she says. Tears rolling down her face. I thought of Geri a few days ago at the driver's license center. They asked me if I wanted to be an organ donor. I agreed to have it on my new license.

Geri Whalen with her three children.

It's something I'd like you to think about. Of the more than 17-thousand kidney donors in a year, nearly 12-thousand came from deceased donors. Geri's kidney came from a 40-year-old New York woman who died. Millions and millions of people just won't sign the donor card. They feel creepy about it. "I don't want nobody cuttin' me open when I die." I get it. I guess.

Will you do me a favor and think about it? It's life-saving stuff. Ask Geri. Ask her family. This is their miracle. An unknown author wrote, A little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone's day. Geri's life is lit up like a Christmas tree today... thanks to a New York woman's act of kindness before she died.

Here at Sparkt ... we try to make a difference every day. Maybe you can do the same. Please pass this along. By the way, I'm headed over to see Geri in a bit. I'll let you know how she's doing.

Organ Donation Information and Resources:

In Western Pennsylvania:

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