Hometown Hero turns heartbreak into action

On May 29, 2012, Deanna Slifka's life was changed by one tragic event

Deanna Slifka spends hours telling the story of her daughter Sophia and how her life changed at St Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero makes a difference, by telling a difficult but important story.

Deanna Slifka spends hours telling the story of her daughter Sophia and how her life changed at St Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.

On May 29, 2012, Slifka was scheduled to have a c-section for her second baby. She was 39 weeks and four days pregnant.

But when they put the monitors on, prepping for surgery, her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Doctors did an emergency c-section and delivered an 8-pound, 11-ounce baby that they named Sophia.

The doctors tried, but couldn’t revive her. That’s when Lifebanc stepped in, asking if they would allow Sophia to be an organ donor.

“We were given the opportunity to allow her to become a heart valve donor, and that has completely opened the door for us in terms of healing and hope and a purpose of life in such a moment of tragedy,” Slifka said.

Now, Slifka shares this difficult story by being an ambassador for Lifebanc, telling Sophia’s story at different events. She said why she keeps doing it, even if it’s hard.

“This is how I get to be her mom. You know, my living daughters, people see me being their mom every day,” Slifka said.

Lifebanc said without people like Slifka, it couldn’t keep making such a big difference.

“Lifebanc couldn’t do our mission; we could not fulfill our mission without people like Deanna, and of course, little Sophia,” said Transplant Coordinator Mary Sansone.

Candace Brown, an organ recipient, said she has seen the transformation that people go through after hearing Slifka tell Sophia’s story.

“You grow to love it, and you grow to see its impact, and maybe if you’re scared of it, you see this tragedy becomes someone else’s miracle,” Brown said.

“Anyone else, you can see that story and it can crumble you, but she took that and she turned it into something great, and she impacts people in the neighborhood with it.”

If you want more information on Lifebanc and becoming an organ donor, visit LifeBanc.org.