Tiny organ donor’s story spreads message of hope in Youngstown

Over 3,500 people in the state are on the waiting list for an organ

Sophia passed away the same day she was born and became an organ donor.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A baby’s short life was honored with an event in Youngstown to raise awareness and money for organ donation.

The Churchill United Methodist Church hosted the second annual Team Sophia Spaghetti Dinner and Chinese Auction on Sunday to benefit Lifebanc, Ohio’s organ procurement organization.

Sophia Slifka passed away four years ago on the same day she was born, but her story is not just a sad one. It’s also about hope, life and love.

“Because she was full-term, she was 8-pounds 11-ounces, she was able to become a heart valve donor and that has brought us so much hope and joy,” said her mother, Deanna Slifka. “There’s a huge need across the United States, and Ohio as well, for organ and tissue donors.”

Over 3,500 people in the state are on the waiting list for an organ. Approximately 2,000 of them live in northeast Ohio.

“One donor has the potential to save 58 lives through everything that they can donate,” said Sophia’s father, Joe Slifka.

Lifebanc has saved and enhanced the lives of more than 11,000 people across Ohio. In the last year, 1.8 million new names were added to the state’s donor registry.

Jessica Brant is a living donor who donated a portion of her liver.

“You can always get tested and you don’t have to be a relative to be a living donor. It’s pretty amazing what you can do for someone else,” she said.

“Lifebanc is just really, really doing great this year about the wonderful, wonderful work that they do. The recipients are so amazingly thankful for what you’ve done,” said Patty Housley, whose daughter was also an organ donor.

Registering to become an organ donor is simple. You can register online with the Ohio Donor Registry, mail an enrollment form to the Ohio BMV or say you would like to be a donor when renewing your driver’s license or state ID.

“Get educated about it. If you’re not an organ donor, when you go to the DMV, add that to your license. You never know the person or persons that can get another chance because of your gift,” said Ryan Collins, another donor’s father.

The Slifka’s raised about $3,000 Sunday night and will be bringing it to Lifebanc on Friday.

Each year, they celebrate Sophia’s birthday by delivering donuts to nurses at St. Elizabeth’s Health Center, where they stayed after she was born, and a cake to the Lifebanc staff.

This year, Lifebanc is celebrating 30 years of saving and healing lives in northeast Ohio and will host multiple events throughout the area to continue spreading its message.

For more inspirational stories and information about donation, visit Lifebanc’s website.

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