Gift of life: Valentine’s Day has new meaning

Valentine’s Day has new meaning for Robin and Harry Broadwater. The Fayette County couple are celebrating the lover’s holiday for the first time since Robin gave Harry the ultimate gift – the gift of life.

Their story is particularly relevant, as Valentine’s Day also marks National Donor Day, observed every year on Feb. 14 to spread awareness and education about organ, cornea and tissue donation. 

Robin donated a kidney to Harry last year on June 26, three days after their 36th wedding anniversary. Harry’s health was in decline due to diabetes. So when he found himself in need of a kidney transplant, Robin immediately wanted to be the donor.

Valentine's Day has new meaning
Robin and Harry Broadwater with their two youngest grandchildren. (Submitted photo)

“I knew the odds weren’t with me, but for some reason I just knew we were going to be a match,” Robin said.

She was right.

Now, Harry is recovering well and hopeful that he can soon return to work as a tri-axle truck driver.

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More than a Valentine’s Day story

Their story goes beyond Valentine’s Day however, because the day also highlights the importance of organ donors.

“Observances like National Donor Day remind us of the impact one person can make by deciding to register as an organ donor,” according to Colleen Sullivan with the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE)..

“Someone is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes; and 2,000 people are waiting for a life-saving transplant in western Pennsylvania alone. Each of us – regardless of age or health history – has the power to answer that call by registering as an organ donor. One person can save and heal up to 75 lives through organ, tissue and cornea donation.”

Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE)

Robin and Harry agree.

“There’s probably, in everyone’s lifetime, someone in their family or a friend who is going to need a transplant,” Robin said.

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The difficulties of dialysis

Her job as a registered nurse on the dialysis floor at an area hospital has heightened her awareness of the need for organ donors. It also made her aware of the difficulties those who need dialysis go through.

That in itself was a factor in deciding to become a donor. Being so close to it, she didn’t want Harry to have to go through it himself.

Robin and Harry were high school sweethearts who married when she was just18. Their marriage, which brought them two daughters, has lasted for over three decades. They celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary last year.

So when Harry needed a transplant, Robin didn’t hesitate to jump in and volunteer.

“We went through a lot of fear, a lot of health problems,” she said. “We were blessed that I was a match; and that we had an opportunity to do the transplant, because there are many people who don’t have that opportunity.”

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Passionate about organ donation

That’s why she is passionate about organ donation and encourages others to consider organ donation, if not in this lifetime, then upon death by checking the “organ donor” box on their drivers license.

“We got our life back, we got our family back,” she said. “I hope people would consider what they can do for other people.”

Their plans for Valentine’s Day/National Donor Day include “nothing fancy”, Robin said. “We’re just celebrating with family close by.”