Inspired Interpretations of Butterflies
Posted August 3, 2018 in News Category
As Deb Simaitis created a stained glass piece for Mid-America Transplant’s Family House, she began painting a story with words to describe the artwork. Made of 116 pieces of glass, the 19-inch-by-23-inch framed work depicts two butterflies and three flowers. “I saw the larger butterfly as the recipient, waiting for the transplant from the other butterfly,” said Deb. “I made them exactly the same, except one is bigger. But I made them the same color with the same glass because I wanted it to represent the recipient waiting for the exact transplant from the donor.”
As a donor mom, she has found comfort in others’ interpretations. Deb’s husband, San, saw the small butterfly as the donor flying off after the donation. Their oldest daughter, Sarah, saw the larger butterfly as the donor watching the recipient fly away as the larger butterfly remains on her flower in heaven. Many others shared their explanation when Deb shared it on social media. “The different interpretations were really amazing,” said Deb, whose daughter Laura was an organ, eye and tissue donor at 23 years old in 2001. “So when people at Family House see it, it’s open to any interpretation. Whatever you see is right for you.”
The stained glass will be displayed at Family House, which provides short-to-long-term housing for pre- and post-transplant patients at one of St. Louis’ transplant centers. Deb hopes the artwork inspires patients waiting at Family House to not give up. “My hope, my wish is that they feel inspired by it,” she said. “I would like them to know it was a donor family who donated it, because the wish of donor families, at least for us, is that the recipients live a full life.”
Deb began her stained glass hobby 25 years ago. In the spring, she created rainbow suncatchers — reflecting the theme of National Donate Life Month — for donor families who attended a donor family recognition ceremony at Donate Life Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. Deb is the chairperson of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Council (GODAC), which hosted the donor family event.
The Family House artwork was a winter project for Deb and San. They both found inspiration in creating a meaningful piece to encourage transplant patients. “I want the patients waiting at Family House to know that there is a donor for them and to not give up hope,” Deb said. “I want them to feel inspired by it and to be comforted by it.”
Now Thousands Know Her
Laura Simaitis made sure her family knew her wishes to save lives as an organ, eye and tissue donor if something were to happen. The unexpected occurred in 2001 when Laura was 23 years old, and she became a donor. Through her gifts, Laura saved, helped and healed 103 people. “No one knew Laura,” Deb said. “She was an everyday, normal person. And now thousands know her. And thousands thank her.”
Deb became an advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation after Laura’s heroic acts. “In her memory, and as part of her legacy, I’ve gone on to be part of GODAC and speak when I’m asked and do what I can to raise awareness for donation,” Deb said.