Althea Fogle

February 21, 2023

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Philadelphia woman knows both sides of organ and tissue donation

Althea Fogle of Philadelphia has been immersed in the organ and tissue donation world like none other: as an employee of the Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley, as mother to a donor hero and as the recipient of a life-saving kidney transplant.

Fogle worked for decades at the eye bank, often interacting with donor families and daughter Tiffany would accompany her to community events, volunteering when she was older.

“She loved people,” Althea says of her daughter who embraced people with compassion, charisma and a giving attitude. “She was a beautiful young lady.”

When Tiffany passed away 10 years ago, vigils were held in her honor, attended by busloads of students from Cheyney University, where Tiffany was class president.

While organ donation was not possible due to the nature of Tiffany’s death, the family was committed to donating Tiffany’s corneas and tissue.

Tiffany gave the gift of sight to two people thanks to the Fogles’ generosity, and her tissue donations, facilitated by Community Tissue Services, provided the opportunity for 71 tissue transplants.

After retiring in 2019, Althea found herself in an unexpected position — on a transplant wait list herself, due to stage 5 kidney disease. 

While preparing to start dialysis this spring, she received a Saturday evening call from Penn Medicine about a possible donor. 

Before heading to the hospital the next morning, Althea attended that day’s church services. A devout parishioner, Althea is her church’s clerk and choir president.

“I can’t thank God enough for my donor family, for their benevolence. Without them, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

Her message to others is simple, especially during Black History Month: Take care of yourself and be attentive to how you are feeling. She implores everyone to register to become an organ and tissue donor.

“You have the ability to save someone else’s life,” Althea said. “There are so many myths around being a donor. Don’t be afraid to give.”