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Honoring the Generosity of Organ Donors: Chesapeake Regional Celebrates Donate Life Month

A gentle breeze unfolded the Donate Life flag as it ascended the flagpole outside Chesapeake Regional Medical Center on a Wednesday morning. Reese Jackson, the president and CEO of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, expressed, “In our sorrows, let us also discover joy and peace.”

Jackson proudly displayed the heart symbol on his driver’s license, indicating his status as an organ donor, and urged others to engage in conversations about organ donation with five individuals daily throughout the month. A ceremony held in the hospital lobby marked Donate Life Month in April, paying tribute to donors, their families, and recipients, culminating in the flag-raising ceremony.

Amber Egyud, the hospital’s chief operating and nursing officer, highlighted the pressing need for organ transplants, with over 103,000 Americans currently awaiting this life-saving intervention. She emphasized that the waiting list continues to grow daily, with kidney transplants being the most sought-after, followed by liver, heart, kidney/pancreas, lung, and pancreas transplants.

Egyud shared national statistics, revealing that every eight minutes, a new patient joins the transplant list, while tragically, 17 patients lose their lives daily while awaiting transplants.

Leslie Fraser, accompanied by his wife Tammy, recounted his journey of receiving a donor kidney in 2018 during the Donate Life Month celebration at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. Fraser, a Chesapeake resident, described the challenges he faced during his six-year battle with dialysis while balancing a longshoreman career and caring for his family. He expressed feeling like a prisoner within his own body until the life-changing kidney transplant on Mother’s Day in 2018, which granted him a new lease on life.

Joanna Colasito, the director of patient experience at Chesapeake Regional, emotionally shared her experience of donating her husband Joey’s organs following his sudden passing in 2021 due to a hemorrhagic stroke. Despite the profound loss, Colasito found solace in the knowledge that her husband’s decision to be an organ donor brought hope and renewed life to numerous individuals. Through her grief, she found comfort in the legacy of compassion and kindness that her husband left behind.

Chesapeake Regional’s collaboration with LifeNet Health has resulted in the saving of 83 lives since 2014. The health system’s commitment to organ donation is evident in the reported 2023 statistics, which include 19 lives saved, 8 organ donors, 22 organs gifted, 15 tissue donors, and 795 referrals for potential organ, tissue, or eye donors.

For those interested in becoming organ donors, more information is available at Donate Life Virginia.

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836,

By the numbers

Organ donation statistics reported by Chesapeake Regional in 2023:

  • 19 lives saved
  • 8 organ donors
  • 22 organs gifted
  • 15 tissue donors
  • 795 referrals for potential organ, tissue, or eye donors