ST. LOUIS — April is donate life month for organ and tissue donation. Mercy Hospital is hosting a donate life ceremony and has introduced a woman whose husband died unexpectedly but donated his organs to help others.

On Thursday, over the lunch hour at Mercy Hospital South off Kennerly Road, a group gathered to reflect and give thanks to those who gave the ultimate gift. Like Charles Jellinek. One of 22 donor heroes at Mercy South last year.

“We thought so but weren’t sure,” says Lisa Jellinek, widow.  “When they approached us, I talked to my sons, and we immediately agreed this was something he would want to do.  Then they checked and he was on the registry so that solidified our decision—we were doing the correct thing he would have wanted.”

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Lisa Jellinek and her late husband Charles first met at St. Louis University and were married for 31 years. The father of three sons died suddenly and unexpectedly in June 2023 from cardiac arrest. He spent four days in the ICU at Mercy South and never woke up.

“There are approximately 14-hundred people in our area waiting on a transplant,” says Wendi Rose, manager of family support for MidAmerica Transplant.  “Approximately 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant.  So, we know it’s important to get the message on organ and tissue donation out.”

When nothing else can be done for a patient, Mid America Transplant reminds everyone that their story doesn’t have to end that way; instead, they get to live on and give another family hope in a moment of tragedy.

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“One donor hero can help save the lives of up to eight people through organ donation and up to 75 through tissue donation,” says Rose.

“His right kidney went to someone,” says Jellinek.  “His left kidney went to someone, and his liver went to someone else, and two corneas restored sight in someone else, followed by tissue donation.  He wouldn’t have liked all the attention and would have laughed but then he would have liked that he helped someone else.”

Another Donate Life ceremony will take place on April 16 at Mercy St. Louis on Ballas Road at 11 a.m. in South County.