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Two Separate Families From Zillah and Spokane Turn Tragedy Into Blessing

Sunnyside, WA (Monday, July 23, 2019) Dr. David Shoemaker, Interventional Radiologist, Dr. Rafael Gonzalez-Vizoso, Emergency Medicine Physician, and a group of select Sunnyside Hospital staff collectively met together the morning of Friday, July 19, to reconnect with two families who have endured a difficult journey. That morning, we had the opportunity to hear the story of two special families with a very special link. A year ago that week, the liver of Greg A. Sutton of Spokane, son of Janet Anderson, was donated to save the life of Al Bass of Zillah.

Mr. Bass was fighting end-stage liver disease. After very disappointing experiences at other hospitals, Al came to Astria Sunnyside Hospital looking for help. That's where he finally found Drs. David Shoemaker and Rafael Gonzalez. With their help, his hope returned. He had a long wait to find a liver donor and Drs. Shoemaker and Gonzalez-Vizoso, and the Astria Sunnyside Hospital team, helped him stay healthy so he could receive Greg's life-saving donation. “We were treated like royalty, it was awesome," said Mr. Bass. "I appreciate it greatly". On July 20, 2018 Greg was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident as he was driving home from a friend’s funeral and later died. Despite the deep personal pain, Greg’s family was happy that he had made the decision to be an organ donor before his accident.

Al Bass was the recipient of that brave decision and it changed both his life and the life of his family. Al completed a successful liver transplant surgery on July 26, 2018. He wanted to thank the family that had made his new life possible. Al first made contact with Janet in April of this year, 9 months after the donation surgery, to personally say thank you for her son’s donation, and express the huge impact it had on his family’s life. Because of this life-changing gift, Al and Tina’s two sons (age 18 and 19) finally have their dad back. When Janet received the call, she immediately felt a peace that her son is living on through Al, and since then, Al and Janet have established a friendship like no other. “Al literally is like a brother to me!” expressed Janet.

The morning of July 19, Mr. Bass and his wife, Tina, wanted to say thank you to the doctors and team at Astria Sunnyside Hospital. But especially, Al and Tina wanted to thank Greg's mother, Janet, and their family. Together with hugs and tenderness, these two families helped portray the full story of how their lives are forever interconnected with ours. It was a beautiful morning clearly illustrating the reason we are Astria Health. It was an honor to be there with the wonderful nursing, physician and caregiving team, sharing the story of Al Bass and Greg A. Sutton, and reminding us again of why we are committed to the Yakima Valley.

Posted July 24, 2019


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