Letter and donation from organ recipient surprises local woman

Dozens of stories have come out of the devastating July 19, EF-3 tornado. Many have been sobering, others lift the human spirit.

Recently, some information came to light which not only exuded good news, but also proved the generosity of being an organ donor lives on.

It caught the attention of T-R staff, having been relayed by a Missouri woman.

The subject was her sister, Sue Cahill, a local resident and also first ward councilor, whose ward suffered extensive destruction.

What Cathie Thomas of Kansas City, Mo., did was share with the T-R information gleaned from a Facebook post authored by her sister, Carol Koening Hagadorn.

Carol Koening Hagadorn wrote: “As some of you know, my sister, Sue Koenig Cahill lives in Marshalltown. Many areas of town were devastated by a July 19 tornado. Sue is a councilwoman and after visiting many of her neighbors, realized there was an immediate need for aid. She was contacted by many of her friends, both local and out-of-state, asking how they too could help. Sue suggested sending a gift card from Hy-Vee or Walmart to her, so she could pass them out to victims immediately. Her request was extremely successful. Shortly thereafter, generous friends and others provided more than $6,500 in gift cards.”

Hagedorn continued, and said a most interesting letter with a donation was sent to Sue from a 87-year old Lincoln, Ne. woman.

It read:

‘Dear Mrs. Cahill,

You do not know me but we are forever connected. In July 2006, I lost sight in my right eye after a botched cataract surgery.

I received a transplant Dec. 7, 2006 at an Iowa City hospital.

A gift from one Irishman (your late husband John) to another.

I know you now realize how we are connected. Several years ago, I inquired as to my donor and I have been quietly following you on the Internet. I read your husband’s obituary and I am not surprised he was an organ donor. I am sure he would have been very proud of your accomplishments.

I also had six children and when we lost a son in 1982 (age 21), his corneas were sent to Iowa and given to an elderly gentleman and an 18-year-old girl.

My transplant has never been a problem. As a Catholic, I do say a daily ‘Eternal Rest’ prayer for your husband. I doubt he needs it, but a dear priest once said, ‘No prayer goes unused.’

When the news broke about the tornado, I immediately thought of you and checked out your Facebook page. So I am glad you are OK.

No response is needed. Please accept the enclosed in memory of your husband.”

“I was thrilled to get the letter and the donation,” Sue said. “John’s generosity as an organ continues to live on.”

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com