Tissue donation changes local woman’s life

April 12, 2024 /// 2 Min Read

April is National Donate Life Month, an observance focusing on the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation, and a time to honor donors by celebrating the lives they have impacted.

Burke County native Kayla Smith holds a special place in her heart (and knee) for organ donors; she had a surgery made possible by tissue donation. Last spring, Kayla began experiencing pain and swelling in her knee making it difficult to climb stairs and even walk. After several months of physical therapy, an MRI revealed major deterioration of cartilage on the interior of her knee. Her physician, Dr. Terry Arrington, made the call to perform an osteochondral autograft, using donor tissue to fix her knee at Burke Health.


After the procedure Kayla was given a QR code that took her to a site that allowed her to write a note to the family of the donor.

“This really intrigued me, and I wanted to share with them that their family member had been able to impact my life in a positive way,” Kayla said. “I remember sharing with them about my own life and family, and then thanking them for their family member’s bravery and act of service in choosing to be an organ donor.”

Kayla, a registered donor, says it was a “full circle moment” for her to see firsthand how much donation can impact someone’s life. Now, after a successful recovery, she is no longer in pain and continues to promote the importance of donating organs. She says being an organ donor has the potential to save or improve the lives of up to eight people who need organ transplants, and up to 75 people who need tissue transplants.

“Often when people think of organ donors, they think of major organs,” Kayla said. “For me, it was a cartilage donor that aided in my knee repair. Being an organ donor means you can impact people in so many ways, and not just a lung, heart or liver donation. Tissues and ligaments are so very commonly needed to help others heal. I’ve always been an organ donor and never thought I would be a donor recipient.”

Source: Tissue donation changes local woman’s life – The True Citizen