Shellen Ryan Rhoden
Organ Donor
Age 55 - Houston, TX
Date of Donation: 12/17/2010
Methodist Hospital; Houston, 


My Hall of Fame nominee and hero is my late wife Shellen Ryan Rhoden. Shellen was born and raised in Texas City, Texas. Upon her high school graduation she enrolled at Texas Tech University. After graduation from Tech she entered Physical Therapy School at UTMB Galveston. She became a licensed P. T. in 1979. She then moved to Houston where she worked as a P.T. at Schurman Physical Therapy, Rosewood Hospital, and finally West Houston Medical Center. Shellen was a P.T.'s P.T. Anyone she ever treated or worked with loved her. She was asked on numerous occasions to move into management positions, but she always declined, saying she loved treating patients, that's why she became a P.T. We met in 1983 and married in 1984. Our son Ryan was born in 1986 and our daughter Lindsay in 1990.
In the fall of 2005 she started to experience weakness in her right shoulder. What was initially thought to be a pinched nerve turned out to be ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). The official diagnosis came in Feb. 2006. The disease moved at a rapid pace and by August she had a trachiostomy and was on a ventilator 100% of the time. Within the next 6 months she became totally paralyzed, with only the ability to blink her eyes. This was how we communicated for  4 years. I would hold up an alphabet board and point at a letter and she would blink on the correct letter(s) until she spelled the word she was looking for. I know it was so frustrating at times for her but she never complained. Not surprising, I never heard her complain pre-ALS.

In the fall of 2010 the idea of organ donation came on our radar through a friend of ours. We did not know if it was even feasible for patients with ALS to be organ donors. After checking with our hospital, who had never done organ donation with an ALS patient, we received the go ahead. A dear friend of ours Becky was in dire need of a kidney transplant. Shellen agreed to donate her kidneys to Becky, when the time came to end her fight with ALS. That time came in December of 2010. We checked into the hospital, and tests began to see if they were a match began. They were a match and on December 16th Shellen's ventilator was disconnected and she passed on, knowing our lifelong friend would receive her kidneys.
I learned more about bravery,courage and grace through Shellen in her battle with ALS, than I had in my previous 50+ years of life. Her warrior spirit was indomitable. She fought like hell everyday, and I was able to witness that.


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