Versiti - Jim Otto | Impact Stories

Jim Otto

“There was nothing we could do to save his life, but at least we could do something for other families. He always wanted to do the right thing.”

Jim Otto

The Otto family has a strong connection to organ and tissue donation. On Valentine’s Day 2010, Sherry Otto’s 15-month-old granddaughter Elise passed away while waiting for a heart transplant. Elise’s mother and Sherry’s daughter, Jacquie, donated Elise’s heart valves so that other children might be given a second chance at life.

So, when Sherry’s husband Jim became ill with pancreatitis, diabetes and COPD, organ and tissue donation was top of mind. “They did lung reduction surgery. If that wasn’t going to work, he was going to be put on the list for a lung transplant,” Sherry says.

Jim’s surgery was successful; however, he developed a blood clot that stopped his heart. The outlook was grim. When Sherry told the doctors that it was Jim’s wish to be an organ and tissue donor, they determined that while his organs likely were not viable, he may be able to donate his tissues.

“We were happy about that; it makes our family feel a little bit better,” Sherry says. “There was nothing we could do to save his life, but at least we could do something for other families.”

In the end, Jim donated his corneas and his tissues to nine recipients, who ranged in age from teenagers to retirees. “Jim was the type who was always out to make other people’s lives better,” Sherry says. “He always wanted to do the right thing.”

Now, Sherry is on a mission to educate others about organ, tissue and eye donation—especially senior citizens. “A lot of people think that when they get to a certain age, they can’t donate,” she says. “The message I want to put out there is that age doesn’t matter.”

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

Amy Barwick
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Savannah Johnston
After Savannah’s mother lost her battle with addiction, Savannah made the decision to donate her organs and give others the gift of life.
Kathryn Krueger
Kathryn received nine blood and six plasma transfusions during her battle with lupus and kidney failure. Now healthy, she encourages others to donate and help patients like her.
Megan Dolan
Megan received bone and cartilage tissue transplants during knee surgery to repair sports-related injuries. She’s grateful to be pain free and have restored mobility and encourages others to join the organ and tissue donor registry.
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
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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.