Give Thanks, Give Life Campaign Honors Organ Donor: Kelly Donovan
November kicks off our Give Thanks, Give Life campaign in which we celebrate the season of giving and the generosity of organ, eye, and tissue donors.
During this holiday, we will be sharing touching and meaningful stories in efforts to raise awareness about the impact of organ, eye, and tissue donation. We encourage all to register to be a donor and/or talk to family, friends, and community members about the importance of donation and one’s wishes to become a donor. You can register at your local DMV when receiving or renewing your license or online at www.lcnw.org.
A local athlete’s giving spirit lives on through her organ and tissue donations
Wisconsin-native Kelly Donovan was an energetic, passionate, and giving young woman. She was always on the move with new projects and endeavors – like helping to raise money for Alzheimer’s research – but was also engaged in both the Madison neighborhood and Seattle communities.
Throughout her life, Kelly excelled at sports. As a youth, she participated in gymnastics, basketball, diving, and high jump. She also played Ultimate Frisbee in college, playing for various teams across the country including in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Washington after moving to Seattle in 2015. She even qualified for a USA Ultimate Frisbee National Championship. After sustaining an ACL injury, Kelly didn’t turn away from her passion but began coaching three boys’ Ultimate Frisbee Teams at Ingraham High School.
The week before Christmas 2016, Kelly collapsed on the field while coaching. Her heart had completely stopped. The young, energetic athlete would never breathe, move, or wake up again despite the efforts of paramedics. She was declared brain dead.
This passionate and caring woman truly made a positive impact in her communities. Youth in Seattle looked up to Kelly as both a coach and symbol in Ultimate Frisbee. Her achievements and attributions to sports and the community are the direct results of her driven mindset and desire to always compete at the highest levels. However, her legacy didn’t stop there.
Kelly had discussed the topic of organ donation with her family across the kitchen table less than two years before her death. “How could anyone be so selfish? You’re not going to be using them anyway, so why not help someone else?” she had asked. Kelly was likely inspired by the kidney donation her father’s cousin had received in 1999.
Given Kelly’s positive nature, her attitude on organ donation was no surprise to her family. However, her family didn’t expect those words to be relevant quite so soon.
“She had given us a clear-cut, emphatic wish to help others,” said Rita Nonneman, Kelly’s mother. “Donating organs, bones, and tissue was never a question – it was to be Kelly’s legacy. It was her Celtic “warrior woman” spirit living on – continuing to impact lives as she had always done. Her donating gave our family hope – hope that others would have the merriest Christmas of all and pass that love on to others…”
Kelly’s selflessness lives on in the four lives she saved through her organ donations. She has been able to help more than 70 individuals across the country through tissue donation. Some of the ways that her donation has helped is through various spinal and hip surgeries/procedures, as well as an ACL reconstruction.
The Donovan family had the opportunity to meet Kelly’s lung recipient, Dori Rosenburg, for the first time after the 2017 Governor’s Gift of Life Award Ceremony in Olympia.