Tacoma mother honors organ donors during Give Thanks, Give Life

This December, Roselyn Knox joins thousands of others who have been touched by organ donation and transplantation to thank and honor donors during our year-end Give Thanks, Give Life campaign. Roselyn’s daughter Marie suffered from health problems throughout her life, including pancreatitis, diabetes, and autoimmune disease. Early last year, as her health took a severe downward turn Marie was transferred from St. Joseph’s Medical Center to the University of Washington Medical Center to be assessed for a liver and kidney transplant.

She was prepped for transplant surgery, however the damage to her liver was too extensive for the doctors to operate. She was moved to the ICU where the family was able to gather together. Physicians were having trouble regulating Marie’s blood pressure. The medicine wasn’t helping and Roselyn knew the best thing was to let her go. Although Marie’s second chance never came, Roselyn was deeply moved by her experience attending a transplant support group and meeting transplant recipients that she continues to educate and advocate for the life-saving cause.

“There is this world that exists, and nobody knows anything about it,” she says. “I think donation means the world to other people. It’s more than just organs, donation gives life to someone else. I’d like to help people to understand the misconceptions around it.”

As we celebrate the season of giving and the generosity of our donor heroes, be sure to share your kindness as well. Register to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor today, and talk to your family about your wishes. You can register at your local DMV when receiving or renewing your license or online at www.lcnw.org.


Marie’s Story

Marie’s graduation

Roselyn Knox considered Marie her miracle baby. After being told she was unable to have children, Roselyn found out she was pregnant while she and her husband were in the process of adopting their son, Parissh. Feeling blessed, she welcomed the news and, soon after, the two new additions to their family.

Marie blossomed into a compassionate, creative, and determined young woman. An avid drummer, she had a natural talent for music and could play a variety of genres with ease. She attended school at Puget Sound University and later began a career at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Health problems, however, were prevalent in Marie’s life from a very young age. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis which eventually escalated to kidney problems and diabetes. Ovarian mass, sever endometriosis, autoimmune disease, hepatitis, the list of medical complications just seemed to add up.

“Through everything she would always bounce back,” said Roselyn. “They would knock her down for a while, but she was always bouncing back.”

Early January of this year, she was rushed to the hospital and became unresponsive on the second day at St. Joseph Medical Center. Her enzyme levels were extremely elevated, and after doing everything they could, the team at St. Joseph’s told Roselyn they would need to transfer Marie to the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) to be assessed for a possible liver and kidney transplant.

“Marie’s normal had gotten so bad over the years that she really didn’t know what a normal feeling was. She was constantly tired, pushing through just to maintain,” says her mother. “So, I believe she was excited about it [the transplant].”

The Knox family

On April 15, she was prepped for transplant surgery. Marie kissed her mother and was wheeled into the operating room. Not long after that, Roselyn received a call from the OR nurse and immediately knew something was wrong. The transplant surgeon explained that the scarring to Marie’s liver and damage to her blood vessels were so extensive that they would be unable to attach the donated organs. She was moved to the ICU where the family was able to gather together. Physicians were having trouble regulating Marie’s blood pressure. The medicine wasn’t helping and Roselyn knew the best thing was to let her go.

Marie passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family, on April 16, 2018.

Through all her pain and suffering, Roselyn couldn’t help but think of the family of the donor who, even though it was fleeting, gave them hope for a new normal for Marie.

“Even though we were in all this pain, I just kept thinking that there was another family [donor family] that was in a lot of pain too, because they lost their loved one,” she remembers.

During their time at UWMC, Roselyn had the opportunity to attend a transplant support group. She met representatives from LifeCenter Northwest and learned more about donation and the organization’s Aftercare Program for supporting donor families. Roselyn remembers being “blown away” by how healthy the liver recipients looked and by meeting so many people impacted by donation and transplantation, and those, like her, hopefully waiting for that second chance. Although Marie’s second chance never came, Roselyn remains deeply moved by the experience with donation and has become an advocate for organ, eye, and tissue donation.

“There is this world that exists and nobody know anything about it,” she says. “I think donation means the world to other people. It’s more than just organs, donation gives life to someone else. I’d like to help people to understand the misconceptions around it.”