A Special Place Ceremony Commemorates Organ Donors’ Gift of Life

More than 1,000 to attend CORE’s annual remembrance event 

PITTSBURGH, June 10, 2018 – Today, at its 25th annual A Special Place ceremony, the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) paid tribute to the 633 organ donors who gave the gift in 2017. More than 1,150 tissue donors and cornea donors were also honored for enhancing lives through donation.

The memorial ceremony, held at CORE’s Pittsburgh headquarters, brought together more than 125 donor families, CORE staff and board members, as well as the extended transplant community to celebrate and remember these special individuals who gave life to others through organ, tissue and cornea donation and hope to those still waiting for a life-saving gift.

“The loss of a loved one leaves a void in the lives of all who knew them. Today we honor those donors and the legacy of hope they left, which continues to heal and give life to others,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO, CORE. “Each one of these donors will be remembered as someone who gave a second chance to a grateful recipient without anything in return. That is a true hero.”

Megan Kelly, a donor wife from Kittanning, Pa., shared her personal story of tragedy and hope. After her husband died unexpectedly at the young age of 38, he became an organ donor.

“We were able to donate almost everything except his lungs,” Mrs. Kelly said. “I received a letter from the woman who received his corneas. That was a beautiful day. I will be writing letters to his other recipients soon. I want them to know how blessed we all feel that Brandon was able to give this gift – the gift of life and hope. Donating his organs is not just a blessing for the recipients and their families, it is a blessing to all those who loved him.”

Tarra Felsing, of Slippery Rock, Pa., is one of the 2,500 people waiting for a life-saving transplant in western Pa. and West Virginia. She provided her perspective as she waits for not only lungs, but also her personal hero.

Also speaking was Michele and Anthony Donatelli, of New Kensington, parents whose decision to allow the donation of their son’s organs saved the lives of several recipients. Theyshared remembrances of their son Patrick McKallip who passed when he was just 26 years old.

Prior to the ceremony, donor family members pinned quilt squares in remembrance of their loved ones. Musical guests included vocalist Carlton Leeper, bagpiper Charles Gledich and the Southminster Ringers. The Rev. Derrick Ulmer gave the invocation.

Approximately 115,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list. Each organ, tissue and cornea donor can save up to eight lives and improve the lives of nearly 75 people. Visit to register today.


About CORE

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States. CORE works closely with donor families and designated healthcare professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissues and corneas for transplantation. CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs and placement of corneas. With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 150 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, New York. For more information, visit or call 1-800-DONORS-7. 


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