Picnic at Knoebels Celebrates Life

ELYSBURG, Pa. -- For 37 years Geisinger's Transplant Program in Danville has helped folks throughout northeastern Pennsylvania receive the gift of life.

Patients of the program gather once a year at Knoebels to celebrate their new beginnings.

The picnic gives those patients a chance to connect and have fun with their donors, doctors and fellow transplant recipients.

"So this is like some sort of homecoming or a family get together. We are kind of like all the loved ones are here," said Dr. Anil Kotru, Geisinger transplant surgery.

Almeda Brantlinger received a kidney from her husband a year ago. The couple says Knoebel's played a special part in their recovery after the life-changing surgery.

"When he was allowed to drive again, we would come over here and walk around and ride the train. Just to get out of the house and so this is like a year later, we're doing the same thing," said Brantlinger.

Transplant recipients at Knoebels tell Newswatch 16 without their organ transplants they wouldn't be able to enjoy everyday activities like spending a day here at the park.

"It's great to have the transplant and be able to do more things, you're healthy enough to actually do something, you're not tired," said Dave Sieben of Susquehanna.

"It's like you're only running at 40% and everyone else is trying to run at 100. You get super tired easy and it's just, it's hard on dialysis, it's really hard," said Kayla Havens of Nanticoke.

Joe Bodnar says he is proof that life after transplant surgery can be exciting. After receiving a kidney and liver donation, he completed a 1,000-mile continuous motorcycle ride.

"Even though you have your transplants, whatever it is you did before you can still do now," said Bodnar.

You can learn more about Geisinger's Transplant Program here.