Liver transplant recipient motivated to support organ donor families
Milestone Distributors CEO and Highland Park resident Kirk Woodall received a life-saving liver transplant in 2017 and has since turned his focus to supporting families of organ donors.
“I was told, ‘You’re a miracle,’ because I really wasn’t supposed to make it,” Woodall said. “I kept thinking about my donor family.”
Woodall hasn’t met his donor’s family, but after attending a lunch that Tara Storch, founder of Taylor’s Gift Foundation, spoke at in 2018, he became inspired to help.
He serves on the advisory board for the nonprofit, which provides grief support for organ donor families.
“Feeling gratitude and not sharing it is like having a present and not unwrapping it,” he said.
Storch said they quickly became friends after meeting at the event.
“It just created a beautiful friendship from there,” she said. “He just truly has a heart to help the donor side because that’s where the gift comes from.”
Storch started Taylor’s Gift Foundation with her husband, Todd, after their daughter, Taylor, suffered an accident while skiing in Colorado in 2010.
“The doctors did everything they could for a day or so to save her life, and she ended up being brain dead, and it was at that point where we knew we were not going to go home with our child, and a nurse approached us and said, ‘She’s a beautiful candidate for organ donation. Would you consider it?’” Tara said. “We knew in our heart of hearts that if Taylor were asked that question, she would have said, ‘Yes.’”
Tara said their decision helped five other people. The Storch family started Taylor’s Gift the same year.
“There wasn’t any place for us to go that understood the grief of a donor family because the grief is a complicated one because you’ve got the grief from a sudden loss … combined with this silver lining of gratitude that your loved one was able to save others,” Storch said.
Woodall said his involvement with Taylor’s Gift has made him aware of the needs of donor families.
“I’m a huge fan of support groups,” he said. “I think that’s what, basically, Taylor’s Gift Foundation does.”
Storch explained, “What we provide to donor families is immediate surrounding of others who compassionately understand what they’ve walked through, and that just makes a huge difference in helping them not move on, but move forward because you never want to move on from your loved one.”