Mercy Health - Youngstown and Lifebanc to Honor Donors, Unveil Tribute

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (April 28, 2017) – More than 150 local organ donor family members, organ recipients, healthcare staff and organ recovery professionals are expected to gather at Mercy Health’s St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital today to reflect on the immeasurable impact of organ donation.


The Donate Life Celebration, which will be held at noon on Friday, April 28, will commemorate National Donate Life Month, which is celebrated each April. The observance features activities to help encourage people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors, as well as to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.


When it comes to organ, eye and tissue donation, the Mahoning Valley is among the most generous. In fact, in 2016, the region’s donors, with the help of Mercy Health - Youngstown, were the leaders in facilitation of gifts through organ donation in Lifebanc’s service area. A nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization, Lifebanc serves nearly 4 million people and works with 80 hospitals in 20 counties throughout Northeast Ohio.


Mary Sansone, CPTC, Lifebanc’s in-house coordinator positioned at Mercy Health - Youngstown, said the generosity of people in the Mahoning Valley has a life-long impact on people right in our communities.


“Thousands of people right here in Northeast Ohio and the Mahoning Valley are awaiting life-saving donations,” Sansone said. “Through the generosity of donors, we can give hope to those who are waiting. When it comes to organ, eye and tissue donation, the community gives, and the community truly receives, as well.”


The centerpiece of the event will be the unveiling of a new tribute to local organ, eye and tissue donors, which will be housed in St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. The digital exhibit will recognize local donors and share content about the impact of organ donation. It will be regularly updated to capture the most recent donors and honor the extraordinary gift they have provided.


Daneen Mace-Vadjunec, vice president of orthopaedics and neurosciences for Mercy Health - Youngstown and a member of an organ recipient family, said the exhibit is a fitting tribute.


“As the healthcare organization that operates our regional trauma system, Mercy Health - Youngstown is closely involved in the organ donation process,” Mace-Vadjunec said. “We witness each day how important that process is to donors and their families. And as a member of a recipient family myself, I know first-hand just how profound an impact donation has.”


Financial contributions helped make the donor tribute a reality. Most notable was a contribution from Tish Traficant, the wife of the late U.S. Representative and dedicated champion for the Mahoning Valley, James A. Traficant. Mrs. Traficant said she got involved in the project because of the significant impact organ donation has had on her family.


“My family has been deeply touched by organ donation in numerous ways, including carrying out the wishes of my late husband, Jim, who was himself an organ donor,” Mrs. Traficant said. “I’m so proud of the role we’ve played in bringing the new donor exhibit to life at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.


“I will continue to be an advocate for the importance of organ donation. People don’t really realize just how important it is. We don’t have enough organ donors. Think about the difference you can make. Talk to your family and let them know what you want. Even at 73, my husband was able to make a difference as an organ donor. You can, too.”


The Donate Life Celebration will be held in the Finnegan Auditorium on the second floor of St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and will feature:


  • Reflection and blessing
  • Guest speakers representing donor and recipient families
  • A moment of silence for Mahoning Valley Deputy Coroner Dr. Joseph Ohr
  • A tribute to recent organ donors, including a personalized slide show and reading of local donors’ names
  • A special presentation to donor families
  • Unveiling of the Donor Tribute Exhibit
  • Flag raising by organ recipients


For more information about organ donation, visit