Skip to main content

Your Tewksbury Today

Wamesit Lanes Person Of The Week: Kerri Lee Johnston

Aug 16, 2017 02:42PM ● By Bill Gilman

The family of Kerri Lee Johnston, from left, mother, Doreen McGloughlin, son, Tyler Johnston, grandmother Noreen Robitaille, daughter, Kaylee Johnston, cousin Annette Harrington, and Wamesit Lanes staff member Ginny Sites.

In her chosen professional career, Kerri Lee Johnston was a hero.
A licensed practical nurse, she helped to save lives and comfort those who were in pain.
Her untimely death in 2012 at the age of 30 caused unbearable grief for her family and friends. And yet, through her death, Kerri was once more able to help save lives and ease suffering.
And that is why Kerri Lee Johnston is the first posthumous honoree as Wamesit Lanes Person of the Week.
 Kerri passed away on Nov. 14, 2012, leaving behind two young children. She had lost a battle with addiction, a disease that those working in the medical field can be especially susceptible to.
In her final moments of life, the doctors caring for Kerri asked her family if they would be willing to donate her organs. Kerri had not been registered as an organ donor but her family saw this as an opportunity for something positive to come from her death.
"It was important for us," said Kerri's mother, Doreen McGloughlin. "It was a chance for part of Kerri to live on."
Last month, an amazing meeting took place at the Dream Diner in Tyngsboro. Members of Kerri's family, including her mother, grandmother, Natalie Robitaille, 7-year-old son Tyler and 10-year-old daughter Kaylee, were able to meet all three people whose lives were saved as the result of Kerri's organs being donated.
The meeting fulfilled a pledge Natalie Robitaille had made in the days after Kerri had passed away.
"After my granddaughter died, I made a vow to meet all three people that had received her organs," she said. "For me, I accomplished what I wanted to do."
The gathering included 72-year-old Richard Aubrey of Lowell; 51-year-old Gladwin Edness Jr. of Bermuda; and 66-year-old Peggy Schoeler of New London, NH.. Aubrey and Edness had each received one of Kerri's kidneys. Schoeler had received her liver.
The meeting lasted a few hours.There was laughter, tears and a unique and wonderful sense of connection. The group also went outside the diner and released balloons intro the sky in memory of Kerri. And 10-year-old Kaylee read a letter she had written for the occasion.
"Kaylee had wrote a letter and in it she asked God and asked (Kerri) to watch over our whole family and watcher over Gladwin and Richard and Peggy because a party of Mommy was inside all of them," said McGlaughlin.
The names of organ recipients are kept confidential, unless they give the organ bank permission to give the information to the family of the donor. Such was the case here. But it didn't happen overnight.
"It was really my mother's persistence that made this happen," said McGloughlin.
"Over the years, I would write to them, me not knowing them and them not knowing me. I would just sign it, "the Donor's grandmother,'" said Robitaille.
The first response came from Aubrey, about a year later. The other two took considerably longer to agree to meet.
 Aubrey, it turned out, was the brother of a customer at a restaurant McGlaughlin was waiting tables at. She customer had mentioned her 67-year-old brother had received a kidney transplant but it wasn't until a year later that McGlaughlin got confirmation her daughter was donor.
The family met with Edness during had trip to Bermuda that had been scheduled long before they knew he was a recipient. McGlaughlin said there are no coincidences and that clearly God's hand was at work.
Wanting all three of the recipients to meet each other, the gathering at the Dream Diner was scheduled for a time when Edness would be in Massachusetts for a followup visit with his doctor.
McGloughlin said that prior to this experience, no one in her family had been organ donors. But after seeing how her daughter was able to save the lives of three people, the whole family has registered to be donors. She is also using her daughter's story to encourage as many people as possible to register as organ donors.
"It's so important," she said. "If you haven't done it, do it."
Those interested in registering as organ donors can do so at any RMV, online at registerme.org or in the iOS Health app.

For being named Wamesit Lanes Person of the Week, the children of Kerri Lee Johnstron were given gift cards from Wamesit Lanes Family Entertainment Center.

Do you know a friend, neighbor or family member who deserves a pat on the back for something cool they've done? Nominate them for Person of the Week by emailing their name, along with the reason they should be honored, to Bill@yourtewksburytoday.com.

Wamesit Lanes Person Of The Week: Kayleigh Ann Nagle

Wamesit Lanes Person Of The Week: Rachel Bradley

Wamesit Lanes Person Of The Week: Emily Cashell
Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/yourtewksburytoday/ Follow us on Twitter at @TewksburyToday Follow us on Instagram at YourTewksburyToday