In loving Memory

Justin Zelenak

January 5, 1991 - October 31, 2022

Donor, Minnesota

On Oct 29, 2022 Justin was found unresponsive in his car in the parking lot of his new apartment. He was transported to United Hospital in St. Paul MN where he was put on a ventilator. We knew he was gone. All the signs were there, pupils fixed and dilated, no response to anything.

Justin had a huge heart, he loved with all he had. And he will be missed by everyone who knew him.

On Oct 31, 2022 he was pronounced brain dead after he failed to breath during the 9 minute test.. We knew he had marked “donor” on his ID.

On Nov 2, 2022 we said our final goodbyes as they took him into surgery to begin the retrieval process. I have a friend who has been waiting for a liver for a couple years. She was the perfect match. Justin was able to donate his heart, a lung, both kidneys, pancreas, and liver. 1 lung went to research.

Justin was 31 years old, he had a nice car, a new job, and was moving into a new apartment. Justin had struggled for many years with depression and anxiety. He started using drugs in high school, which did not help his mental health. He had been in several treatment facilities and had been clean for 16 months. He was doing so well. He had reconnected with family, and had really turned his life around. Things were going so good. I will say “things were going so good” a million times because by all appearances they were. He had spent a lot of time helping us at our cabin, I was helping him plan his best friends Bachelor Party. How can things be “wrong” when your planning a party?? We had NO idea that he had started using again.

After he was gone and we started to piece together his last month we did see some signs. He was such a gentle soul, he just wanted people to be proud of him. And we were, the problem was that he didn’t see it, he never felt “good enough”. But he was, he was amazing, he was so kind and wouldn’t hurt a fly. His heart was so giving, he would have made a fabulous husband and father if he could have stayed clean and lived.

Justin was not just my nephew, he was my number 1 baby. He lived with us for the first 4 years of his life. For me, moving to my first home was so hard because I didn’t want to leave him. He was my favorite little man. We were always close, I never gave up on him. He was so perfect in my eyes.

I hope that whom ever has received his gifts is doing well. I hope they understand how lucky they were to receive a piece of Justin. Of the kind hearted, handsome young man who left his family way to soon. We want to meet his recipients, so if anyone received a gift on Nov 2, 2022 please reach out to us. Justin will forever be missed, no parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, nobody should have to say a forever goodbye to their child. We know Justin is at peace now, the demons can’t get him anymore.

Forever loved and never to be forgotten…

With much love,

Justin's Auntie Krissy