Versiti - John Kittilstad | Impact Stories

John Kittilstad

“He was so selfless and loving … I just knew this was the right option, because it would help other people. That’s just who my dad was as a person.”

John Kittilstad

Samantha Kittilstad remembers her father, John, as a generous individual who loved to hunt, fish, and spend time with his family and friends. “He was such a family man,” she says. “He loved me and my brother, Andrew, and his dog Remy.”

On Dec. 19, 2023, John was at the pool with Samantha’s cousins and grandmother when he went underwater and was unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital, where he sadly passed away. “It’s all kind of up in the air; we’re not entirely sure what caused him to pass,” Samantha says. “It sounded like it was a heart attack.”

Unbeknownst to Samantha, her father had registered as an organ and tissue donor. “He was a loving, selfless man. It didn’t surprise me when I found out he was a donor,” she says. “We came home from the hospital that night and I got a message from somebody at Versiti asking me to call them about tissue donation. At that moment, I was so overwhelmed with emotion.”

Samantha called Versiti the next day, with her brother and grandmother at her side, and made the selfless decision to donate her father’s tissues. “At first, I was upset about letting go of parts of my dad,” she says. “But knowing that it’ll help others is a really rewarding feeling.”

Through this gift, Samantha hopes that her father’s legacy of love will live on. “We thought that this would be what my dad would want,” she says. “He was so selfless and loving. His love was so unconditional, that I just knew this was the right option, because it would help other people. That’s just who my dad was as a person.”

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

Katina Shaw
Katina’s brother was only 12 years old when he tragically passed away. Katina’s mother made the brave, selfless decision to donate her son’s organs so that others might live on.
Daniel Perelman
Daniel Perelman was 18 years old when he donated his heart, liver and both kidneys following a fatal plane crash. Now, his family keeps his memory alive by encouraging others to donate blood, do good deeds for others, and consider becoming organ donors.
Michael Gordon, MD
Orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician Michael Gordon, MD, often uses donated tissues to restore his patients’ mobility and get them back to doing the activities they love most. He encourages people to learn more about what donation might mean for them.
Ger Lor
Ger first learned of organ and tissue donation in 2015, when his father received a lifesaving kidney transplant. Now, he’s on a mission to educate the Hmong community about the importance of donation.
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.