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A mother’s final donation helps propel science

SNOHOMISH — A mother’s untimely death led to gifts of life for a score of strangers, and for generations to come.
Her name was Dee Ann Reynolds, she lived in Snohomish, and she was a tissue donor through LifeNet Health, a nonprofit organization federally designated by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to support and assist tissue donations, often through hospitals and the patients they serve.
Reynolds died unexpectedly during a routine angiogram from aortic dissection, an event so rare that it only happens to less than a half percent of people undergoing angiograms.
But since she signed up to be a tissue donor, the tragedy of her passing has enabled others to see, breathe and return to active life after undergoing surgeries for cancer or suffering debilitating conditions such as severe scoliosis.
“To date, more than 45 people have received transplants from Dee Ann’s donations of tendons, ligaments, bones and corneas,” said LifeNet donor family advocate Noreen Sutton. “Her gift of skin will be used for research and development to help discover new life-changing therapies.”
Sutton has worked with Reynolds’ family during their loss and has remained in contact since Reynolds’ death in 2016.
Reynolds’ daughter, Everett resident Leslie Michaels, credits Sutton with providing much-needed solace and support during such a difficult time and now wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
“Until my mom went home to be with the Lord, I had never considered registering as a donor,” Michaels said. “I have since updated that because of the support and care that was given from LifeNet Health. I want that for my family when I pass on.”
“My grandma had Multiple Sclerosis and only so much research had been done at the time,” Michaels said about why her mother made the decision to donate her body to others and to science.
She testified of her mother’s Christian faith, which she shares, and that the choice to become a tissue donor was seen as a way to love others as Jesus did.
“She had so many health issues, cardiomyopathies, bad knees and back, an autoimmune disease, a skin condition where she felt constant itching, and she had a pacemaker,” said Michaels. “There were lots of doctors’ visits. My mother needed to go in for injections every month or so. I thought you had to be healthy to donate, but I found out anyone can be a donor.”
Despite Reynolds’ physical setbacks, Michaels remembers her as a self-sacrificing, fun, loving, mom. Reynolds’ life had not been easy. She had to persevere after her husband exited the family when Michaels and her sister were young, and
through a second marriage that didn’t last. She raised them primarily on her own while working in custodial services at Northwest Hospital, then moving to the University of Washington where she stayed for over 25 years and ended up being the custodial lead at Student Housing.
“My mother was very, very hard-working” Michaels said, her voice still clearly carrying the deep sting of grief, “she didn’t take vacations for herself. She lived for us and for others.”
The full scope of Reynolds’ tissue donation is yet to be counted. According to information provided by LifeNet Health, one donor can enhance the lives of more than 150 people.
For more details on tissue donation and how to become a donor, visit or



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