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"Been incredibly blessed" - How organ donations at TMH are impacting Tallahassee neighbors

Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 15:43:05-04
  • 72 people were given transplants through donations at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare in 2023.
  • That is the largest number of organ transplants performed out of 36 North Florida counties.
  • Watch the video to hear from an organ recipient and the family of a donor.


On average, 17 people die each day waiting on an organ transplant nationwide.

At Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, 72 lives were saved in 2023 thanks to neighbors' generosity.

ABC 27's Kendall Brandt met one woman who received not one but two heart transplants.

She's sharing her story as the push to save more lives continues.

Nancy Burke trusted TMH when she got sick during her pregnancy in the late 80s. "Started a cough which ultimately lead to a diagnosis of cardio myopathy."

After giving birth with the heart disease, she then had to turn to TMH yet again. "I was their 41st heart transplant patient back in 1989. My donor's name was Tammy and she was just a teen when she died of an aneurysm."

Tuesday she honored Tammy as LifeQuest Florida honored TMH as the number one hospital for organ donation in our region.

LifeQuest Florida is an organization that facilitates organ donations and transplants in North Florida.

They say TMH performed the most transplants in 2023, helping 72 patients thanks to 34 donors.

They're filling a small part of a nationwide need.

According to, experts say over 100,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant.

Something Burke had to do, twice, getting her second heart transplant in 2019 after the other failed.

She said she feels lucky."Been incredibly blessed, blessed to see these other donor families that have shared their gift of life with others they even don't know, with complete strangers in their moment of greatest tragedy and greatest grief."

Neighbors who had to go through that grief: Rebecca and Paul DeFrank.

Their son Alex died in 2020 after a work accident. "He lasted for nine days here at TMH and he just declined during that period of time and he was ultimately declared brain dead."

Alex was an organ donor.

He donated to four people, something Paul said keeps his son's legacy alive. "Everything felt very senseless after his death but hearing and touching those recipients words was… it was really like touching Alex again."

The organ that Tammy gave to Burke lead to another gift: her son. "He's a gift that I didn't think I'd ever be able to have another baby."

She is proud that TMH is the leader for the lifesaving treatment she has gotten twice. "I'm not surprised because Tallahassee is a very giving community."

If you want to become an organ donor, you can visit to register.