Versiti - Barb Goeckner | Impact Stories

Barb Goeckner

“As a living donor, I tell people all the time that it was the greatest gift I’ve been allowed to give. And it was a gift to me to be able to do it.”

Barb Goeckner

Organ and Tissue Donation

Despite being six years apart in age, Barb Goeckner and her sister Sue always had a tight bond. “We were always very close—like twins,” Barb says. “We finished each other’s sentences.” So, when Sue began experiencing kidney issues at age 22 and needed a transplant, Barb knew she wanted to help. “Along the way, I always said that I wanted to donate,” she says.

Unfortunately, Barb wasn’t a match for her sister; however, 30 years after first becoming ill and on her fourth kidney transplant, Sue asked Barb if she was interested in participating in a paired kidney exchange of three recipients and three donors. Barb and Sue traveled to Mayo Clinic, where they inevitably bumped into the other families involved in the paired exchange. “We became friends immediately,” Barb says. “We’re still all in connection with the paired exchange group.”

Sadly, Sue passed away on Christmas Eve 2020 from COVID-19, and Barb’s kidney recipient developed histoplasmosis and also passed away. But Barb is grateful for the extra years that kidney donation afforded her with her sister, and wouldn’t hesitate to donate a kidney again if she could. “It’s very easy to do, especially when you see somebody you love who is so sick,” she says. “As a living donor, I tell people all the time that it was the greatest gift I’ve been allowed to give. And it was a gift to me to be able to do it.”

Now, Barb continues to advocate for organ and tissue donation as a Versiti volunteer. “I enjoy it so much, and it’s been such a great part of my life to give back,” she says. “You meet so many people with terrific stories. It’s been so wonderful to be a part of it.” She also encourages others to register as organ and tissue donors and consider becoming a living donor.

“It’s not just simply being able to give that kidney, but becoming part of something so much bigger,” she says. “It’s an amazing gift. I felt like it was a gift to me, to be able to give. I wish I had 20 kidneys so I could do it again and again.”

Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the organ transplant waiting list.

Approximately 113,000 men, women, and children are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. One organ donor has the power to save up to eight lives and change the outcomes of someone’s world forever by giving them a second chance. Additionally, tissue donation can save and improve the lives of up to 75 people with their gifts. You can make a huge impact by registering as an organ and tissue donor.

Learn more about organ and tissue donation, or register as a donor at


Impact Stories | Organ & Tissue Donation

Judges Derek Mosley and JoAnn Eiring
In 2014, Derek was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. Already his colleague and close friend, JoAnn got tested to see if she could donate her kidney and save Derek’s life.
Juan Rodriquez
Because Juan was an organ donor, when he suffered a severe stroke, he was able to donate his organs and save somebody's life.
Nykia Julian
In 2018, Nykia Julien’s heart was beginning to fail.  Eventually, doctors told her she would not have much longer to live without a new heart.
Become an Organ and Tissue Donor
Learn more about how to sign up as an organ, tissue and eye donor and how organ donation saves and enhances lives in our communities.
About Blood Donation
Donate blood, donate plasma or donate platelets at a blood donation center near you or a blood drive near you. Make an appointment to donate blood today.
Share Your Story
Versiti invites you to share your story and photo to help encourage more people to give back. You may even be featured throughout the year on our social media.
Impact Stories
Your blood, organ and tissue, and other donations directly impact lives in your community. Read a few of the examples of some of the lives that have been changed for the better.