Gift of Life

After being an insulin-dependent diabetic for 19 years, Joanie Videen has now been insulin-free since July 2010 after receiving a pancreas transplant.

Videen explained she had been on a waiting list for about six months when she got a call about a possible donor. Videen said her doctor explained the pancreas wasn’t a perfect match, but after discussing the options, Videen decided to move forward, and the transplant was a success.

Videen, of Cambridge, shared her story during the March 17 Cambridge City Council meeting to relay the importance of organ donations through April as “National Donate Life Month.”

National Donate Life Month was instituted by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003.

Videen said after 10 years of living as an insulin-diabetic, she was then diagnosed with hypoglycemic unawareness and would have to check her glucose day and night every three hours.

Not one day goes by that Videen doesn’t think of the 20-year-old organ donor who passed away due to a head injury.

“I knew there had to be a family out there hurting in order for me to get this organ donation,” Videen said. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that donor’s family. I thank my donor for their beautiful, generous and kind donation. My donor’s heart, lungs and kidneys were also placed. The gift of organ donation is an amazing hope, and I hope people take the proclamation seriously.”

Videen touched on the importance of the organization Life Source, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest. More information about Life Source can be found at Besides checking a box on your Minnesota ID or driver’s license, residents can sign up to become an organ donor at

Videen explained that 63 percent of the Minnesota population is registered as donors; however, only 59 percent of the Isanti County population is registered as donors.

She also noted 18 people on the national transplant waiting list die every day, while 12 people are added to the national transplant waiting list every minute.

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer also touched on the importance of donor donations.

She shared a story about her daughter’s friend needing a kidney, and her daughter decided to donate one of her own to her friend.

Palmer also mentioned Cambridge Firefighter Chip Imker, who died following a routine training accident at the Cambridge Fire Hall in May 2011. Palmer mentioned he was also an organ donor.