[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 123 (Tuesday, September 16, 1997)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1756-E1757]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                           HON. HENRY J. HYDE

                              of illinois

                    in the house of representatives

                      Tuesday, September 16, 1997

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, a heart transplant is but one of today's 
medical miracles, but miraculous it is when 71-year-old Bill Ellis is 
alive and well today with the transplanted heart of then 10-year-old 
Travis Robinson of Salt Lake City, Utah.
  This remarkable story is well told in an article published April 24, 
1996 in the Salt Lake City Tribune.
  I take this opportunity to share this great story with my colleagues:

              [From the Salt Lake Tribune, Apr. 24, 1996]

Mom Is Happy Son's Little Heart Went to Such a Big-Hearted Man--Mother 
                     Meets Recipient of Son's Heart

                           (By Norma Wagner)

       After losing her 10-year-old son Travis to a traffic 
     accident in September, Tracy Robison was not sure she ever 
     would want to meet the patient who received the fifth-
     grader's heart.
       ``I had mixed emotions about it,'' said Robison, an 
     emergency-room nurse in Provo who was working when her son 
     was brought into the hospital.
       But through a series of unusual circumstances, 71-year-old 
     Bill Ellis, CEO of a national snack company in Chicago, found 
     out it was Travis' donated heart that saved his life.
       Ellis had an old friend in Utah, Gordon ``Boots'' Barnett, 
     whom he had not seen in 18 years. The two recently got in 
     touch again, and when Ellis--who suffered from terminal heart 
     disease--told Barnett his new heart had come from a young boy 
     in Orem, Barnett knew it had to be Travis.
       After all, Barnett's granddaughter was one of Tracy 
     Robison's best friends.
       After contacting the Robisons, Ellis flew to Salt Lake City 
     last month and met his donor family.
       ``Talking with and seeing Bill, it's just been incredible 
     for me,'' Robison, 33, said. ``It just makes me so happy that 
     Travis' heart is still beating. And Bill is a very generous 
     person. In return for someone saving his life, he's turning 
     around and doing good things for other people.''
       As for Ellis, who has become a major supporter of shelters 
     for abused women and children in Alabama and Los Angeles, he 
     has not only found new meaning in life, but ``another family 
     in Salt Lake City.''
       ``I have a picture of Travis and his mother and two 
     brothers right here in my office,''

[[Page E1757]]

     Ellis said Tuesday from the Chicago headquarters of Farley 
     Foods. ``I met the family, and when you stand there and 
     realize that her son's heart is in your body, well, I 
     just, I get kind of choked up talking about it. I could 
     tell it was the same for her when she looked at me.''
       Ellis and the Robisons decided to share their story to help 
     increase awareness during National Organ and Tissue Donor 
     Awareness Week, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday.
       Across the United States, transplant centers are suffering 
     a critical shortage of organs and tissue and have launched 
     the first nation-wide campaign to increase the number of 
     donors. The Coalition on Donation has enlisted Michael Jordan 
     of the Chicago Bulls as its national spokesman. Jordan will 
     be featured in 30-second radio and television commercials, on 
     billboards, transit advertising and through direct mailings 
     throughout the country.
       The coalition is a national, non-profit alliance that 
     represents nearly 100 organizations involved in organ and 
     tissue procurement and transplantation. The thrust of its 
     campaign is to motivate more Americans to discuss with family 
     members their decision to become donors. The coalition 
     estimates that permission required from next-of-kin is denied 
     in 50% to 85% of the cases where there is high potential for 
     donation. Discussions prior to death can eliminate confusion 
     and uncertainty about the desire to be a donor and help make 
     it easier for family members to carry out a donor's wishes, 
     said coalition president Howard Nathan.
       More than 45,000 critically ill Americans are on waiting 
     lists for organ transplants, with a new name added every 18 
     minutes. Last year, more than 19,000 transplants were 
     performed in the United States. But 3,000 people died while 
     waiting for a suitable donor.
       In Utah, 190 people are awaiting vital organ transplants. 
     And many more are in need of tissue such as bone, skin and 
     corneas. During 1995, 207 patients received organ transplants 
     from 57 Utah donors.
       Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt is joining the effort by holding a 
     press conference at 10:15 a.m. today at University Hospital 
     in the second-floor conference room. And at noon, 
     Intermountain Organ Recovery System will hold a tree planting 
     ceremony in Canyon Rim Park, 3100 S. 2900 East, in a tribute 
     to donor families and transplant recipients.
       The decision to donate was an obvious choice for Tracy and 
     Conan Robison.
       As a nurse at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Tracy 
     Robison witnessed miraculous changes in patients' lives after 
     their diseased organs were replaced by healthy ones.
       She was working at the hospital on the evening of Sept. 12 
     when her mother called and said Travis had been hit by a car 
     a half-block from home. ``She said he was unconscious and his 
     legs were twisted. I didn't totally panic at that point 
     because unconscious to me is possibly not as critical,'' 
     Robison said. ``We see it here all the time.''
       But then the E.R. got a call from the ambulance en route. 
     ``They said they were coming in Code 3, which is the worst 
     you could come in with,'' she said. Travis' pupil's were 
     fixed and he was breathing erratically. ``The worst insult 
     was to his brain.''
       Tests two days later confirmed Robison's worst fear: Travis 
     was brain dead. Within a few hours, transplant technicians 
     were removing his organs.
       In addition to his heart going to Ellis, Travis' liver went 
     to a father of five in Springville and both kidneys went to 
     two different women in Salt Lake. And his eyes restored the 
     sight of two others.
       ``I really think that somebody else should have the 
     opportunity to improve their life with something that 
     somebody else doesn't need,'' Robison said. ``It's not going 
     to do any good for Travis to keep it. And for me, it has 
     brought an incredible amount of peace and happiness that 
     others have been benefited.''
       When looking at Ellis, she added in a choked voice, ``I can 
     see Travis in so many ways. I can't think of a better person 
     that his little heart could have gone to. Travis had a big 
     heart and Bill does, too.''