Honoring loved ones while saving lives
Glenn Modracek, a dedicated blood donor, donates in honor of his wife, Sharon, who passed away on Nov. 27, 2019. He describes Sharon as having a one-of-a-kind personality, and he recalls her Mayo Clinic team of surgeons and specialists giving her the nickname "Tough Cookie."
Sharon was born with congenital heart defects. In June 1956, she made history by being one of 15 patients to receive a new lifesaving surgery made possible with the invention of the heart-lung bypass machine at Mayo Clinic. She also was the first woman to give birth successfully after having that surgery.
Fifty-eight years after Sharon's heart surgery, she was due for a heart valve replacement. The surgery was deemed a success. But one hour later, Sharon's life was in peril as she endured a 33-minute Code Blue (medical emergency). A 75-day recovery followed.
Sharon had to learn how to breathe and walk again with the help of her loving family and the dedicated staff at Mayo Clinic. Her determination and Tough Cookie attitude allowed her to welcome her four great-grandchildren into the world over the next five years.
The ordeal had taken a toll on Sharon's lungs, however. A diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, combined with her congenital heart issues, was too much. With her characteristic grace and concern for others, Sharon made the courageous decision to stop her fight against the inevitable.
Glenn says he is forever grateful to the medical professionals who cared for his wife. These incredible men and women inspired "A Balancing Act," a painting that is now displayed at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus.
How to donate blood