The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) recently presented Life Connection of Ohio (LCO) volunteer Harvey J. Steele with the 2016 National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence in recognition of his untiring efforts as an advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation.
Nineteen years ago, doctors gave Harvey one week to live. End-stage liver disease transformed Harvey into a frail, jaundiced man who couldn’t even walk. Harvey, who received two life-saving liver transplants in November 1997, has been making the most of his second chance at life ever since. Harvey always says he never has to play the lottery because he won it – twice.
Harvey has volunteered for LCO since 1997, and his involvement has ranged from media interviews and hospital outreach to awareness events and speaking engagements. When Harvey was on the waiting list for a liver transplant, he promoted organ, eye and tissue donation whenever possible. Calls poured into LCO as a result of Harvey’s story – people wanted to know more about donation and how to register in honor of Harvey. LCO’s secretary estimated the increase in calls per day to be 10 times the typical amount!
Harvey co-hosts K100’s Shores & Steele, a number-one radio show in Toledo, and he uses that platform to spread the word about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation. He has donated countless hours of free publicity for the cause by sharing his story on air and via social media, broadcasting live from special events, emceeing ceremonies and recording monthly PSAs. He has spoken on behalf of LCO at churches, high schools, sporting events, civic meetings, seminars, and the list goes on. Organ, eye and tissue donation rates have steadily increased in northwest Ohio and statewide, due in large part to Harvey’s efforts.
Calls still come into LCO today because of Harvey spreading the word. From the hugely diverse audience Harvey talks to through his microphone every day, it is clear that his impact knows no boundaries.
UNOS, which runs the nation’s transplant system, established the National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence in 2010 to recognize exceptional advocates who promote organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation. UNOS solicits nominations for the award from the organ procurement organizations and transplant centers across the United States. Harvey was nominated by his daughter Kara, LCO’s Director of Community Services, and he is the first organ recipient to earn this prestigious award.
“I am humbled by this recognition, but the true heroes of organ, eye and tissue donation are the donors and the donor families — people who at the worst time of their lives thought of others and allowed their loved ones to give the gift of life,” Harvey said.
Congratulations, Harvey, and thank you for all you do to promote the life-saving message of organ, eye and tissue donation!