A strong, spirited woman who loved animals and rock ’n’ roll, Michele Baumgardner was a giver; she was someone who loved to serve. More than anything else, she adored her grandchildren, whom she loved “unconditionally,” according to her daughter, Monica Umlauf.
When Michele died unexpectedly, she had the rare opportunity to save and enhance lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. Monica lovingly authorized her mother’s donation. Days later, Monica found Michele’s license and saw that she, in fact, had been a registered donor.
“I always knew she wanted to do organ donation,” Monica said. “When I was a little girl, she told me, ‘Give them to somebody that needs them. They’re no good for me, but they’re valuable for someone else.”
Monica had a difficult time processing the news when she learned that one of her mother’s kidneys was not viable for transplant. Still, she was proud of her mother’s donation — including other organs and tissues that could be used to help others — and stayed strong.
“I don’t know how many times I wanted to give up,” Monica said. “The more I kept that little glimmer of hope alive, the better it got, the easier it got.”