Judy Verblin's generosity leaves lasting impression

September 27, 1994|By MICHAEL OLESKER

The record says Judy Verblin died late last winter, but maybe the record has it wrong.

That she was stricken, there is no doubt. She'd had a bad heart attack four years ago, and then some smaller attacks since, and on that last morning in March she awoke in her Northwest Baltimore home and was getting ready for work at the Baltimore County Courts Building when she was hit by severe chest pains.

She was rushed to the hospital, and the doctors did what they could. It wasn't enough. She'd had a stroke, and a blood vessel had ruptured in her brain, and she was declared dead on March 20.

There were people from all over the place at Verblin's funeral, those she'd known from her courthouse days, those with whom she'd worked in the Baltimore County Circuit Court's land records department, those she'd known over the 52 years of her life.

"She was a great woman and a great mother," said Morris Berke, with whom she'd lived for the past 22 years. "She'd had heart problems, but she loved to go snorkel diving. She loved gardening, and she had this beautiful plot behind the Valley Village Shopping Center. And everybody who knew her knew she would do anything for you."

"When I first came here, I appointed her supervisor of our intake department," her boss, Suzanne Mensh, clerk of the Baltimore County Circuit Court, was saying yesterday. "She took over at a time when three of five cashiers had left the department. Refinancing was at its all-time high because of low interest rates. People were coming in, it was like a tidal wave. I didn't know how we'd get through it.

"But she kept saying, 'We'll make it work, we'll do it. She inspired everybody around her, she did such a fine job under such pressure. And she left a legacy of dedication. She was a wonderful role model for everyone."

"She was so wonderful," added Barbara Raine, Mensh's secretary. "She was so considerate of everyone around her."

She didn't know the half of it.

The record says Judy Verblin died on March 20, but maybe the record has it wrong. That she was cremated, there is no doubt. But, in her will, she left behind pieces of herself for others. The Transplant Resource Center of Maryland got various organs, and the Medical Eye Bank of Maryland got her eyes.

"A second chance for others to lead a normal life," said Michael Silva, director of recovery services at the Transplant Resource Center of Maryland, a private, nonprofit organ procurement operation. "Wonderful gifts of life."

"A miracle," said Patricia Murphy, executive director of the Medical Eye Bank of Maryland. "There are now two people whose lives have been linked forever to Judith Verblin. Although these two people may never know one another, they have this much in common: Both were blind, and both have been restored to sight, through Judith's understanding of corneal surgery."

There's more. Verblin's liver went to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where it was transplanted into a 52-year-old married man with two children. The liver is functioning well. Her pancreas and left kidney went to the University of Maryland Hospital, where they were transplanted into a 29-year-old woman who teaches elementary school. She's doing fine. Verblin's right kidney was transplanted into a 43-year-old married woman at the University of Wisconsin. The transplant was successful.

And there's still more. Bone was recovered from Verblin, and will be used for transplantation and reconstructive surgeries. Skin was recovered and will be used for patients with burns and trauma. The heart and lungs were recovered and, because they were unsuitable for transplantation, they're being used for research.

"Her lungs were sent to asthma and allergy centers," Michael Silva said. "A portion of her lungs went to a facility in Canada for cystic fibrosis studies. Her heart will be studied for plaque concentration and how atherosclerosis affects the arteries."

"It's a revelation that she left these donations," Suzanne Mensh said. "But it's not a surprise. Judy was a humanitarian. There were an awful lot of tears shed here when she died. It was a very difficult time."

The record says Judy Verblin died last March, but maybe the record has it wrong. People don't really die, not if they leave something behind. For a whole bunch of people, what Verblin left behind was a future.

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