Iowa woman’s late husband is one of a record breaking number of organ donors in 2021

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:33 PM CST
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CHARLOTTE, Iowa (KCRG) - A record 128 deceased organ donors helped 365 people waiting for a transplant in Iowa in 2021. CEO of Iowa Donor Network, Suzanne Conrad, says that’s compared to 102 donors in 2020.

“A lot of health care providers working in hospitals or working in the field as ambulance drivers, EMS medical examiners remembered to call us even though they were short staffed and stressed by covid,” said Conrad.

What’s unique about this number is that not everyone who donated was originally listed as a donor on their state-issued driver’s license.

That was the case for Joel Martens, who died from a stroke in November of 2021.

“Knowing that I’m going to lose him regardless, this helped him live on in others and make their Thanksgiving a lot better,” said Joel’s wife Teresa.

She said they got the call shortly after his passing asking if she and his siblings would be willing to sign off on an organ donation.

“We, all three, at the same time said yes.”

Even though he never got around to applying to be a donor, Teresa said she knew her husband was always a selfless man and he would want to continue to help others in this way.

Just days before the stroke he had given his 85th blood donation.

“It just seemed like the perfect segue for him to just keep giving like he always had,” said Teresa.

So he became one of the many donors that actually saved a life in 2021.

Both his wife and Conrad say the benefits of becoming a donor are invaluable to both the loved ones of the person saved, and those closest to the donor.

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