The Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is working to save lives by asking Illinois residents to "Say Yes" to organ, tissue and eye donation.
Gift of Hope is highlighting the selfless decisions by former IHSA student-athletes who were tragically lost too soon, but who left us as heroes due to their decison to SAY YES to being donors.
See their stories of donation below and learn more about becoming a donor here.
Olivia “Livi” Sonetz was a force of nature — energetic, kind, unstoppable, fearless and unforgettable. Tragically, Livi, who was a senior at Normal Community West High School in Normal, Ill., died on March 7 after an automobile accident one day earlier.
Despite the magnitude of their loss and sorrow, her parents, Laura and Paul, authorized organ and tissue donation on Livi’s behalf. Through the gift of donation, Livi saved three lives with her organ gifts, and her tissue gifts have already helped to heal many others.
Read more of Livi's story here
After a tragic accident took 15-year-old Izaiah Francheschi’s life, he became an organ and tissue donor. His gifts have saved and enhanced the lives of people in 10 states and in South Korea—including the life of a six-month-old baby boy.
The infant received part of Izaiah’s liver in lifesaving organ transplant. A few months later, his mom Irma had a chance to meet the baby whose life Izaiah saved and the infant’s family. She saw in the healthy baby that Izaiah’s legacy lives on.
Izaiah was an athletic 15-year-old with big plans. He was passionate about basketball. Irma says Izaiah spent every free minute training and conditioning for basketball season and often talked about the house he would buy for his family once he played for the NBA. Read more of Izaiah's story here
When Cord Pearce of Morton, Ill. received his instruction permit to drive, he made it known to his family that he wanted to be an organ & tissue donor.
When the 16-year-old unexpectedly passed away less than a year later, his family knew his desire to help others through donation.
“Agreeing to allow Cord to be a donor and give the gift of life to someone would be honoring his wishes because he was such a giving and caring person and always thinking of others,” Cord’s mother, Amie, says.
Cord donated 29 bone grafts after his unexpected death. His tissue gifts have enhanced the lives of recipients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
“Hopefully, these people are doing well, and they are living healthier lives,” Amie says. Read more of Cord's story here