Lighting The Way Home for Transplant Families

Help give families staying at Gift of Life Howie's House hope and a path forward during their darkest hours.

Kelsey Pabon (left) and her mother Sandra at the hospital

Over a decade ago, past guest and lung transplant recipient, Sandra Pabon, faced a life-altering diagnosis of Lupus. This chronic autoimmune disease causes one’s immune system to attack the body’s tissues and organs. Over the next few years, the disease began to damage Sandra’s lungs, and she was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).

After years of battling her condition, Sandra’s doctors suggested the only path to survival – a life-saving lung transplant. In 2016, she joined the waiting list, but her journey was far from over.

Sandra faced a challenging road because of the limited availability of compatible donors. Five long years passed, and it seemed as though her family had accepted the harsh reality that a matching lung might never come.

Then, in March of this year, the phone call that would forever change Sandra’s life arrived.

Sandra received the call that a match from an organ donor hero had been found for her, and she received her life-saving lung transplant the next day. There were some complications, however, and Sandra had to remain undersedation for four months in the ICU to minimize the signs of rejection.

It was during this time Sandra’s family utilized Gift of Life Howie’s House to remain close to her. Sandra’s husband, David, made a promise to never leave her side while in the hospital, and the House made keeping that promise possible.

Left to Right: David Ryan, Kelsey, Samantha, Kathryn, Sandra, David Pabon
“The House means a lot to him… It allowed him to stay with me and complete the promise that he made to be by my side.”


Sandra and her husband David

David stayed at the House for over six months while Sandra was in the hospital and recovering. Their children, who had all moved home to help the family, were also able to visit whenever they could.

“This program made it possible for my family to stay close to my mom while she continued to fight for her life. It gave us a community to turn to full of people who were going through the same experience we were.”


One of Sandra’s daughters

Sandra Had to undergo intensive physical therapy for many weeks after she came out of sedation. Her family continued to stay at the House during this time.

“The House has been a value to me and my family… It would have been really scary to not be able to do anything and not have my family there everyday making sure I was OK.”


Recently, Sandra was able to return home to Pennsylvania and is eagerly looking forward to driving again, taking care of her house, and making up for lost time with loved ones. She emphasizes that she is forever grateful to the House for allowing her family to care for her when she needed them most.

You can light the way home for families like Sandra’s today by donating to Gift of Life Howie’s House here.

By making a gift today, you are helping to “Light the Way Home” for the many families staying at the House this holiday season. Every donation, regardless of its size, makes a significant difference in these families’ lives, offering them hope and a path forward during their darkest hours.

Your support will help bridge the gap between our low nightly fee of $40 and the actual cost to provide our services, which is $175 a night. It will also help keep the promise of never turning away a family who cannot afford the nightly fee.

For those who donate $250 or more, your name will be placed on a beautifully crafted paper house, illuminated as a symbol of your support. They will be displayed around Gift of Life Howie’s House and serve as a reminder to our guests that there are compassionate individuals helping to ease their journey and “Light the Way Home.”

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