The Compass Summer 2023 | Page 7


Giving Back for the Gift of Life

After receiving the ultimate gift from an organ donor , Lisa Barker and her family are devoted to giving back .

t 25 years old , Lisa Barker found herself arriving at Baylor University Medical Center ( BUMC ) in Dallas on a helicopter . Lisa ’ s diagnosis of acute liver failure had her care team estimating that she had 24 to 48 hours left to live — unless she received the lifesaving gift of an organ donation .
Lisa refers to what happened next as a complete miracle : As her family and newlywed husband prayed for Lisa , another family was making the decision to donate the organs of their own 15-yearold daughter , Courtney Ray Sterling , a teenager who had passed away in a car accident along with her older sister and unborn nephew .
“ Courtney is my hero . The decision her parents made that day to donate her organs saved my life and the lives of several others ,” Lisa said . “ Her parents said that Courtney would have wanted something good to come from this . As a mom now myself , I would also want my boys ’ legacy to live on in such a unique and beautiful way .”
Lisa ’ s liver transplant was performed at BSW Annette C . and Harold C . Simmons Transplant Institute , an internationally renowned destination for transplant care and one of the largest in the nation . Since the first transplant in 1984 , more than
11,000 patient lives have been transformed , making the program the highest volume transplant center in Texas .
Giuliano Testa , MD , chief of abdominal transplant surgery at
BUMC , credits the selfless donors who empower the excellent work he and his team perform .
“ Often , the focus of attention goes to the doctors and the institutions that perform these lifesaving procedures . But the true heroes in these stories are the patients , the families and the donors ,” Dr . Testa said . “ Lisa ’ s story is the perfect example of how from one act of kindness stem many more . Our job at Baylor Scott & White , every day , is to make the extraordinary ordinary and the exceptional normal — not an easy task , and yet our strength and enthusiasm are constantly fueled by our patients , their families and the donors .”
Lisa and her husband Reid , high school sweethearts and devout Christians , made the decision to dedicate their lives to raising awareness for the gift of life that organ donation represents .
A few years after Lisa received her transplant , Reid found the opportunity to give back in the ultimate way — as a living kidney donor after one of his good friends developed kidney failure .
“ I am honored to be a living kidney donor ,” Reid said . “ Signing up to be an organ donor truly is the most selfless
Courtney Ray Sterling ( 1998 – 2014 )
decision anyone can make . Our lives are an example of that gift , and we will continue to spread that hope each day we are given !”
Lisa thinks often of the milestones she is able to achieve in life , thanks to her donor . Lisa makes every moment count , celebrating her marriage and also achieving a life dream to become a mom . Lisa and Reid adopted their boys , Frank and Blaise , from the country of Burundi ; they have also added Michael and Dawn Sterling , Courtney ’ s parents , to their own family . Lisa ’ s boys know the couple as “ MawMaw and PawPaw .”
The Barkers ’ transplant story today comes full circle , as Lisa and Reid passionately advocate and pray for others in need of transplant . Among those is Lisa ’ s father , Steve , who is now on the kidney transplant waiting list . Lisa is grateful for the excellent care she says her father is receiving at Baylor Scott & White and hopes to stand at his side as he undergoes the transplantation process himself , if a donor is found .
“ I call it my ‘ Baylor bubble ,’ because the people there not only care for you physically , but also emotionally ,” Lisa said . “ You feel the love .”
BSW Annette C . and Harold C . Simmons Transplant Institute in Dallas is preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its landmark solid organ transplant program in 2024 . If you are interested in more information on how you can support excellence in transplantation , please contact Myka Boos at 214.820.2585 or Myka . Boos @ BSWHealth . org .
The Barkers ( left to right ): Frank , Reid , Blaise , and Lisa