NORWALK, Iowa – April is Donate Life Month, a time to honor people who have given or received the gift of an organ, tissue, or eye donation, as well as those who are still waiting.
Amanda Wilken was on her way to becoming a pharmacist before her life was tragically cut short. Even after her death, she is still helping others.
Jeanine Flies, Amanda’s mom, shares what one of her recipients wrote in a letter: “Dear donor family, please accept my condolences for the loss of your loved one and my thanks for your commitment to the donor program. It has restored quality to my life.”
In 2018, Amanda was killed in a car accident. She was 23 years old and unbeknownst to Jeanine, Amanda was an organ, tissue, and eye donor.
“It was Amanda’s decision and I wanted to honor that,” Jeanine said, “and so I said go ahead, and off we went on learning a lot about donation and honoring Amanda.”
Jeanine shares Amanda’s story with different groups and driver’s education classes. She walks in the Iowa Donor Network Green 5K.
“The first year, it was tough for me because it was shortly after I lost Amanda,” Jeanine said, “but just the energy around and looking out in the crowd that day to see everyone that was there for this really incredible purpose, I can’t even describe it.”
The event raises money for the Iowa Donor Network, whose mission is the same as Jeanine’s.
“I get probably one person out of every time that I tell Amanda’s story that replies to me and checks the box to become an eye, organ, and tissue donor,” Jeanine said. “And that’s pretty special to me.”
And it’s comforting, as she replies to those people her daughter has helped.
“As I have tried to understand the tragic loss of my only child,” Jeanine writes, “I find moments of peace knowing the blessing she left for others by being a donor.”
This is the first year back in-person since the pandemic for the Green 5K. For more information about participating, click here.
For more information about becoming a donor, click here.