Springfield Regional pays tribute to organ donor with honor walk

Nearly 115,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ transplant — but a Springfield man was recently honored for giving all he had to make that number a little smaller.

Staff lined the hallway of Springfield Regional Medical Center to honor a man who made the decision to give life to others through organ donation.

Before Curtis Clemons passed away, he and his fiance made the decision that if his time came — he would donate his organs. He died last month from issues with COPD, a chronic lung disease.

Any member of the Springfield Regional staff that was available came to line the hallway, standing respectfully in silence. Dozens and dozens formed the line stretching from Clemons’ room to the operating room.

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“When they took him out, everyone was there and it was beautiful,” said Clemons’ fiance, Gloria Mongold.

Mongold said Clemons donated his heart, kidneys and liver to four different families.

“His doctor had told him that in five to 10 years, you’re going to be on the lung transplant list. And he kept saying I’ll die waiting on one,” Mongold said. “So he wanted to make sure other people didn’t die waiting on an organ.”

Curtis Clemons’ fiance said whoever received his organs probably likes to hunt and fish now, activities he loved to do — like little pieces of him living on.

The honor walk was in organized by Drue Adams, the manager of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Springfield Regional.

Adams said she and other staff had gotten to know the couple very well during his time at Springfield Regional, which made saying good bye to Clemons even harder.

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“Our jobs are very stressful, especially the unit that we work in and when we lose a patient, it’s very emotionally draining for us,” she said.

She said when she watched him being wheeled down the hall, there were a lot of emotions going through her head.

“When you have somebody that you know is losing their life, it’s very heartbreaking,” she said. “But… you’re also helping so many others so it’s bittersweet.”

Stephanie Burianek, the hospital liaison for Life Connection of Ohio said there’s close to 3,000 people waiting for organ transplants just in Ohio, and every 10 minutes someone new is added to that list.

But she also said there are encouraging statistics. Eight lives can be saved by one person choosing to be an organ donor.

“It’s healing for the families to know that yes, their loved one did pass but they’re helping so many more people,” she said.

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