Shining the light on organ donors for ‘Donate Life Month’ in April

Allison Vogel’s son Tanner donated his organs after he died in a car accident at age 23.
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 8:19 PM MDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2022 at 8:23 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - April is National Donate Life Month. A month to appreciate those who have signed up to become organ, eye and tissue donors and remember and honor those who have donated.

Allison Vogel’s son Tanner donated his organs after he died in a car accident at age 23.

“I lost my son Tanner Denton in an auto accident almost six years ago,” said Vogel. “He was very passionate about organ donation. We had taken a family vacation a few months before the accident, and he had spoken to all of his family to make sure we were all aware that he had chosen to become an organ donor, and he wanted to make sure we were all registered as donors as well.”

Allison said she knew Tanner had signed up from when he got his driver’s license at 15. But she didn’t realize how passionate he was about it until he went into detail about what he wanted to donate and all of his end of life wishes.

“At the time, it’s a conversation that as a mother you never want to have with your child, so I was like, Tanner, we’re not talking about this right now,” said Vogel. “He said yes, we are, right now, and it was a great conversation to have.”

At the time of his accident, there was no hesitation because she knew his wishes.

“It makes me very proud as his mom to be able to continue to spread his message,” said Vogel. “I honestly can say it was a healing journey for me to know that my son was going to be able to live on through enhancing or saving the lives of other people.”

Allison said the letters she received from the donor recipients were all very fitting. One of Tanner’s corneas went to a woman in Ireland, and Allison said Tanner loved traveling the world. A transplant of some of his tissue went to someone who would then be able to play baseball again, and Tanner loved baseball. Allison said it was one of his biggest passions his whole life, both playing and coaching. Lastly, Allison was able to meet with the recipient of one of Tanner’s kidneys last year, who lives in eastern Colorado and they’ve remained friends ever since.

“Tanner was a really giving person and he was a people person,” said Vogel. “He had a lot of friends wherever he went and I think it was something really important to him.”

Donor Alliance Regional Consultant Colin Larkin worked directly with Tanner’s mother, Allison, in the donation process.

“Having had the privilege to work with donor families over the years,” said Larkin. “One thing that has stuck with me is how important it is when you make that decision to sign up to be an organ, eye, or tissue donor, to be sure to share that decision with your family because it’s important for them to know what your wishes are.”

Donor Alliance Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Muriett said there are over 1500 people in Colorado still waiting for donations.

“Through donate life month, we get to bring honor and recognition and encourage people to continue to sign up,” said Muriett.

St. Mary’s held a flag-raising ceremony Thursday morning of the ‘Donate Life’ flag. It will fly throughout the remainder of the month. Later this month, St. Mary’s will also shine a light on the side of the hospital for the remainder of the month, featuring a light display.

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