The Giving Tree honors those who gave the ultimate gifts

The Giving Tree honors those who gave the gift of life or enhanced the lives of patients through organ, eye, and tissue donation last year at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Visit the display in the Main Entrance Lobby (Elevator E, Level 1) through Jan. 5 to recognize these individuals and their families for having given the ultimate gifts of life.

Everyone is invited to attend the reception honoring those who donated as well as their families. The reception will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, in the Colloton Pavilion Lobby (Elevator F, Level 1). Remarks will be at 3 p.m.

Following are the stories about two people who, in 2014, gave the ultimate gifts to help others.

Caleb R. Shamrell (Dec. 18, 2011, to Dec. 17, 2014)

Caleb #1--LoopCaleb Shamrell, the youngest of six children, was an energetic and vibrant two-year-old boy who was full of boundless energy and love. His passion for sports and the movie Tarzan translated into a daredevil personality that kept his family on their toes, but he never lost his ability to be the perfect snuggle bug. Preparations were underway for celebrating his third birthday, just before Christmas of 2014, when tragedy struck and Caleb suddenly died. In the midst of the most difficult trial his family has ever faced, his parents were inspired by their “Bubba’s” caring nature to donate his organs, tissues, and corneas. “If we weren’t going to receive our miracle and have Caleb live, we wanted him to be that miracle for someone else. Organ donation gave us that chance. The effect that one little boy can have on so many people has been incredible.” Caleb’s heroic act of donation inspired his family to keep his memory alive by helping others. Their efforts resulted in Caleb’s Alive In Me Foundation.

Joel Higgins (Feb. 19, 1982, to June 9, 2014)

Joel HigginsJoel Higgins and his family understood well what the precious gift of life means to a patient and to the patient’s family. Joel, who was diagnosed at age 27 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, received life-giving bone marrow and stem cell transplants to treat his illness. And about five years later, he underwent a double-lung transplant when it became necessary. Joel was known for his patient and kind heart and for his special love for nature, which would often cause him to stop to watch animals at play on the Iowa State campus. Joel’s wife Jana says that through all the chemotherapy and transplants, he had an unfailingly positive and selfless attitude, and he never hesitated to take part in medical studies that were offered to him in hopes that his participation would advance research for future patients. In his typically selfless way, Joel gave the gift of sight to another by donating his corneas to a patient like himself who was in need.