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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Organ Donor Adam Armbruster Honored For Giving Gifts Of Life

Shortly after his 18th birthday, on Aug. 2, 2011, Adam Armbruster of Hwy. 64, Peshtigo, went on-line to sign documents through the University of Wisconsin’s “Donate Life” program expressing his wish that his body should be used to help others if and when he died. Subsequently, an “organ donor” seal was added to his driver’s license.

Less than a year later, on July 29, 2012, just three days before his 19th birthday, he was dead. After being discovered unconscious at home he was taken by a “Flight For Life” helicopter to Aurora Baycare Medical Center in Green Bay, where he was subsequently pronounced brain dead.

With the cooperation of young Armbruster’s grieving family, doctors were able to recover Adam’s kidneys, liver, pancreas and heart. Thanks to those donated organs, four other Wisconsin residents who had been near death can now hope for long and healthy lives.

Adam, son of Ruth Armbruster, of Loomis/ Peshtigo and Kim Armbruster of Porterfield, had graduated with a high honors HSED diploma from Crivitz High School/NWTC on June 12, 2012. His mother said he had just been accepted into the Marine Engineering for Electronics program at NWTC with a full scholarship when his short life ended.

In a letter dated Aug. 14, 2012, Jill M. Ellefson, Executive Director of the UW Health Organ Procure-ment Organization, informed Adam’s mother, Ruth Armbruster, that through her son’s “Legacy of Life,” one of his kidneys was transplanted into a patient who suffered from end-stage renal failure. This patient had been on dialysis since December of 2011 and on the waiting list since April of 2012.

His other kidney and his liver were transplanted into a patient who suffered from end-stage renal and liver failure. This patient had been on dialysis since March of 2012 and on the waiting list since June of 2011. Adam’s pancreas was transplanted into a patient who suffered from end-stage pancreatic failure, and had been on the waiting list since July of 2012.

His heart was transplanted into a patient who suffered from end-stage heart failure and had been on the waiting list since January of 2012.

“We, along with the staff in the Intensive Care Unit at Aurora Baycare Medical Center, were so impressed that you would consider others even when you suffered such a deep personal sorrow,” Ellefson wrote. “Your decision illustrates how helping another person is one of the most important gifts in life.”

“Even in death, he has made me so proud,” Ruth said of her son’s decision to be an organ donor.

Adam’s family and those of other recent Wisconsin organ and tissue donors were invited for a reception and ceremonies Friday, July 19 at Governor Scott Walker’s Executive Residence in Madison.

Attending in Adam’s honor along with his mother, Ruth were his father, Kim Armbruster, his brother Matt Armbruster and his fiancee, Tabitha Peterson, Ruth’s good friend Harry “Butch” Dudkiewicz of Crivitz, his grandparents Elizabeth and Paul Corn of Menominee, and aunt Debera Lyons Dove and her son, Maleki Lyons Dove, of Milwaukee.

Their day in Madison started with shuttle bus transport from the Warner Park Parking Lot to the Executive Residence at 9 a.m., followed by registration and refreshments until 10 am. and outdoor ceremonies from 10 am. to noon. When the ceremonies ended participants were returned to the parking lot via shuttle bus.

Ruth treasures the medal awarded in her son’s honor. She said during his high school days, if she could not reach her son via his cell phone she was forever calling his friends with the message, “If Adam is by you, please have him call me.” Now she is working on T-shirts for 19 of his closest friends, each bearing a picture of Adam, a cell phone, and the old message, “If Adam is by you, please have him call me.”

Meanwhile, his older brother Matt is trying to complete the “dream truck” Adam had started to rebuild. The vehicle is to be a memorial to Adam’s memory, Peterson said she and her fiance hope to use the finished truck to raise funds to support teens at risk and promote healthy lifestyles.


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