Michigan Mother Hopes Social Media Can Help Find Late Daughter’s Organ Recipients

SAGINAW, Michigan   —  A mother is using the power of social media to find the organ recipients of her late teenage daughter.

Julia Griffin lost her life on August 28, 2016 at just 15-years-old when she fell down basement stairs and hit her head on the concrete floor.

Her mother, Melissa Lownsbery, said when doctors told her Julia had little chance of survival she knew exactly what her daughter would want.

Julie was able to save the lives of three people through organ donation by donating her heart, both kidneys, and her pancreas.

“I don’t know why, but it laid really heavy on my heart,” Lownsbery said.

After her daughter died nearly two years ago, Lownsbery said she felt compelled to donate her organs, hoping to provide a source of life, through her painful loss.

“Knowing the type of person my daughter was, I just felt like that something Julia would want me to do,” Lownsbery said.

“Julia was a kind, loving, talented, outgoing, sassy, beautiful girl with a bright future ahead of her. Julia was a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a best friend to many, and my first love,” Lownsbery wrote in a Facebook post.

Now Lownsbery is hoping to make contact with the recipients.

Lownsbery said she has reached out to Julia’s heart recipient and was fortunate enough to hear from him and his family. However, she said the agency that handled the transplants keeps everything very confidential.

“All we want is to meet the people who have part of our JuJu in them,” she said.

She learned it’s still possible for her to make that connection in person.

“Some of the identifying information needs to be stripped out of it initially, until the recipients say they want to have that information or even want to receive the letter,” said Tim Makinen, the communications director for Gift of Life. “Then we facilitate that, and eventually there might even be a meeting.”

This has given Lownsbery hope that she’ll be able to meet the lives of those her daughter saved.

“That would be, I’m sorry I’m getting emotional, but there would be no better gift for that to happen for me,” Lownsbery said.

Lownsbery said the transplants took place in Saginaw during August of 2016. She and Julia’s twin sisters now live in Florida, but she hopes the power of social media can help track down the people Julia helped save. Her Facebook post has been shared nearly 600 times.