Together. Saving Lives.

Sarah and Jennifer’s Story: A Generous Gift

Michelle listens to Jennifer's heartbeat, the transplanted heart of her sister Sarah

Sarah Griffin was a beautiful, loving, and caring woman. She loved her children and family well. She enjoyed coloring, writing, doodling, and had a particular fondness for teal and bright colors. By choosing to be a registered organ donor, she demonstrated thoughtfulness and generosity. In April 2021, Sarah unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Michelle Johnson, honored Sarah’s decision to be a donor. Sarah’s remarkable choice resulted in saving the lives of four individuals.

On National Donate Life Month’s “Blue and Green Day,” Sarah’s heart was transplanted to Jennifer Mayadas-Dering, a New York resident and accomplished athlete with a background in professional racquetball. Despite facing health challenges, Jennifer made an impressive comeback to professional racquetball post-transplant. She continues her career as an engineer and enjoys outdoor activities with her husband and two sons. Since the transplant, Jennifer and her husband celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Grateful for Sarah’s gift of life, Jennifer and her family cherish the moments it allows them to share.

Facilitated by HonorBridge’s Family Resource Program, Michelle and Jennifer corresponded through letters while maintaining their privacy. When ready, they signed paperwork to exchange direct contact information and continued to stay in touch. A year after the heart transplant, Jennifer sent each of Sarah’s children teddy bears containing recordings of her heartbeat.

About a year and a half following Sarah’s organ donation, the two families decided to meet in North Carolina. On Oct. 29, representatives from HonorBridge had the incredible privilege of introducing the families, who spent the afternoon together exchanging stories, hugs, and very special gifts.

More than 100,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Together, we can make a difference. Register your decision here: