Grapevine by Alex Vukoder

As a registered nurse for more than 30 years, Cindy Farrell is no stranger to devoting her life to helping others. Five years ago, Cindy went one step further and donated part of herself–her liver—to save the life of then one-year-old Mara from Ashtabula, Ohio. Mara has citrullinemia, a life-threatening genetic condition that affects less than 1 in 57,000 births. At the time, Farrell didn’t know Mara or her family, but when she saw a Facebook post shared by a co-worker, she filled out the donor screening card immediately. Her liver donation saved Mara, who is now six, and reaffirmed Farrell’s desire to help as many people as possible in as many ways as she can.

Farrell stayed active with the organ donor community online, even looking for someone for whom she could be a donor. Late last year, she saw a video posted by a 10-year-old girl pleading for a kidney for her father. Farrell remembered seeing the video and thinking, “that’s it, that’s the one.” 

Her road to double-donation began with a lengthy testing and evaluation process to ensure she was in good health both physically and emotionally. Her “spare” kidney would go to Ryan Neve, a Pittsburgh-area 45-year-old father of two. Neve’s kidney function was down to 4%. A transplant was his only hope.

The surgeries were performed on Jan. 5. Both are doing well, and Farrell returned to work as a surgery nurse at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute in Akron in mid-February.

“The Divine brought us together—two strangers, two hours apart,” said Farrell.

Neve told a local radio station that Farrell’s gift was the most selfless act he has ever witnessed. He is now looking forward to attending his children’s sporting events and later, their weddings.

“I love you with all of my heart, you have saved my life,” Neve told Farrell, holding back tears.

Currently in the United States, more than 100,000 people are on the organ donation waitlist. For more information, Farrell recommends the United Network for Organ Sharing ( and joining organ donor Facebook groups to hear the stories of donors and recipients. She also recommended talking to your medical professionals. She is happy to share more of her experience with anyone interested. Contact Farrell at

Farrell’s husband, Tim, and their five children, adults Candice, Craig, and Christine, and Revere students Bridget (10th grade) and Liam (7th grade) are very supportive of her willingness to donate organs to save other families. Farrell is also very active in our community. She is the vice president of the Revere Baseball and Softball Association and volunteers at Stewart’s Caring Place, offering Reiki classes to cancer patients and their caregivers. 

Our deepest condolences to friends and family for the loss of Dr. Herbert E. Croft, a valued member of the Bath community for more than 30 years, who had recently celebrated his 92nd birthday. As a hematologist and oncologist, Croft dedicated his career to helping cancer patients and their families. He is one of the founders of the Akron Oncology Association and spearheaded the development of the McDowell Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic Akron General Medical Center, where he served as chairman and medical director for more than 15 years. Even after he retired from private practice, Croft continued to give back to the community and medical profession through his work with nonprofits and as a volunteer physician at Open M.  

He impacted the lives of so many, including Bath resident and retired Revere Local Schools educator, Ronald Garman, who was just seven years old and fighting acute childhood leukemia when he first met Croft. They remained close over the following 60 years, even becoming Bath neighbors. Garman credits Croft with inspiring him to use his cancer diagnosis to help others by introducing him to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life program.

“He started as my doctor and became my friend,” said Garman.

I had the honor of meeting Croft more than twenty years ago at the American Cancer Society, where he served on the local and state boards. I was immediately impressed with the extreme love and dedication he showed to his patients. Croft was known for his colorful suits and fun socks. When asked about his gregarious sense of style, he quickly responded that there are enough reasons to be serious in life, and he wanted to add a bright spot. And like to so many others, Croft was a friend, mentor, colleague, and chosen family to my family and me. Croft lived his life with purpose and in service to the community. He was much loved, laughed often, and will be dearly missed.

Croft and his wife, Jill, enjoyed spending time with family and traveling—especially out West and to the Caribbean Islands. He was a member of nonprofit Gyro International, where like-minded men of good character meet in friendship, and was a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is survived by his wife, Lana Jill Chipps Croft and children Jeffrey (Nancy) and Lynn, and brother Vernon (Lisa). A memorial service will be held Friday, March 3, at 1 p.m. at Fairlawn Lutheran Church, 3415 W. Market St., Fairlawn. To share a memory or send condolences, visit 

Happy 80th anniversary to Women in Touch with Akron’s Needs. WITAN was initially founded in 1943 by seven young women and has grown to an active membership of over 300 remarkable women who give countless volunteer hours and donate approximately $50,000 per year to community organizations.

Since 1943, WITAN has volunteered over 3 million hours and granted over $1 million to nonprofit agencies. Tracie Lee Baumgardner, Deb Sutter, Karen Sears, Mega Rankin, Shawnee Domonkos, and Carla Shome are serving as officers during this anniversary year.

And finally, a shoutout to Dave Wigarden from Breads on West for making a delivery over the holidays to ensure an elderly couple could enjoy their order when the weather didn’t allow them to get out.

Thank you all for sharing and inspiring our readers with your exciting accomplishments and kind commitments to the community and others. I would love to tell more stories and celebrate your good news, so please continue to send them to me at ∞

Organ donor Cindy Farrell (r) poses with
Ryan Neve, who received one of her kidneys.
Photo submitted.
Dr. Herbert Croft (l), who spearheaded the development of the McDowell Cancer Center of Akron General, stands with his wife Jill. Photo submitted.