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Published: Friday, 1/5/2001

Transplant recipient led organ fight

Marilyn Dirr of Oregon, 53, a double-lung transplant recipient and a national chairman of Organ Donor Awareness for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, Life Connections, died Monday in Presbyterian-University of Pittsburgh Hospital.

Mrs. Dirr died of respiratory failure, her husband, Loren, said. She underwent a successful transplant in Pittsburgh 10 years ago and became closely identified with local and national efforts to increase organ donations.

She was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and volunteered for Life Connections of Northwest Ohio.

She was a patient representative with the University of Pittsburgh's lung transplant program and volunteered for the American Lung Association, the Transplant Recipients International Organization, Inc., and other groups concerned with pulmonary transplants.

“She was proud of her family and her volunteer work in promoting organ transplants,” Andi Norman, a longtime friend, said. “She was a wonderful example of how successful organ transplants can be.”

Mrs. Dirr, a graduate of Central Catholic High School, was diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension in 1990. The condition causes a hardening of the heart muscle and arteries that serve the heart, causing a partial heart failure. Physicians at Medical College of Ohio Hospitals determined that she needed a single or double-lung transplant to save her heart.

Because lung transplants were unavailable here, Mrs. Dirr went on a waiting list for lung transplants in Presbyterian-University of Pittsburgh Hospital and underwent the transplant July 6, 1990.

Mr. Dirr was a registered representative at Coulacos-Brennan & Associates, now New England Financial, and worked for several years before that as an assistant at Merrill Lynch. She retired in 1989 due to her medical condition.

“She had a great way of handling people, including a group of strong-willed salesmen who demanded a lot of service in our office,” said Bill Coulacos, a retired managing partner of the agency.

Henry DeMain, a former salesman with Coulacos-Brennan agency and now a partner in Butler Capital Advisors, Inc., said Mrs. Dirr urged him to succeed in financial services by starting his own firm. “She knew a lot about the business. She was managing the investment department when I started, and she taught me a lot,” Mr. DeMain said.

Mr. DeMain and Mr. Coulacos traveled to Pittsburgh to visit Mrs. Dirr after her transplant.

“My God, she was a fighter,” Mr. Coulacos said. “She survived waiting for the transplant, the surgery itself, and she went on to live a productive life after that.”

Surviving are her husband, Loren; daughter, Bridget Green; son, Brian Provo; sister, Carol McCloud, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. today in Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Arrangements were by the Hoeflinger Funeral Home, Oregon. The family requests tributes to PHA, Life Connections, or Central Catholic High School.



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