2018 Float Walker Honorees
Meet the inspiring living donors.
Jeff Leone considers all organ donors and their families heroes. He knows this to be true because he has received two kidneys in his life—one from a 23-year-old man who died in a car accident, and the other from his wife. A bruised kidney in 1984 took Jeff to the doctor where he’d eventually learn he had kidney disease. Twelve years later, he entered end-stage kidney failure and began dialysis. Plans to receive a kidney from his brother were halted at the last minute. After the discovery and removal of a large tumor on his small intestine, Jeff learned that the tumor would have likely killed him had he received his brother’s kidney. Jeff counted his blessings and accepted the fact that he’d wait several years for his transplant.In July 2017, Ryanne Wilkes began her career as a nurse on the Labor and Delivery floor in Pensacola, Fla. Ryanne’s nursing career may have been impossible without the gift of tissue donation that she received. Ryanne had a severe impingement of her left hip that caused complete deterioration of her cartilage and labrum. She was in pain every day for two years following an injury that exacerbated the impingement. The problem with her hip became so bad that she was unable to take part in some of her favorite activities and walking became painful. During Ryanne’s senior year of nursing school, she received a tissue graft for a reconstructive hip surgery. Due to the generous gift of tissue donation, along with months of physical therapy, she was able to participate in her senior practicum and now works on her feet for 13 hours at a time helping patients every day as a nurse. “This donation changed my life,” said Ryanne. “I truly do not think I could have made it very far in my nursing career with my hip in such awful shape. Not only has the tissue donation changed my life, but it will also touch the lives of the many patients I care for throughout my career.”