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National Donate Life Month
When her husband died at 27, she donated one of his kidneys to a member of their Carbondale church

CARBONDALE — Jessica Sergeev describes her late husband, Ivan, as someone who was concerned about his health, full of life and vitality, enjoyed helping others and always encouraged her to be more health-conscious and eat more vegetables.

In the summer of 2014, Ivan, a healthy 26-year-old, had a stroke. Doctors told the young couple that Ivan had a malformation of blood vessels in his brain, something that happened as his body developed before birth.

So, doctors and staff at St. Louis University Hospital developed a plan to go in and fix the problem. Ivan suffered another stroke during surgery and never recovered.

Jessica Sergeev, who had married Ivan a mere 22 months earlier, had to make decisions about his medical care. She now calls staff at St. Louis University her “army.” They fought long and hard to save Ivan’s life.

“They sat with my husband’s family from Russia and the translator and made sure everyone understood what was happening,” Jessica Sergeev said. “When I felt like we reached our last resort, doctors would not talk about organ donation. They called in Mid-Amerca Transplant Services.”

Jessica and Ivan Sergeev had talked about organ donation. Ivan even signed up to donate.

Illinois has a first-person organ donation system, meaning you can choose to donate your organs and sign up, sparing loved ones from making those decisions at the time of death.

“I remember MTS staff sitting with me and talking about life. For them to take that time was the ultimate kindness,” Jessica Sergeev said.

During this process, Jessica Sergeev learned more about organ donation. To be able to donate, a person has to be declared dead, which is when the brain or heart no longer functions. Doctors still do everything within their power to save lives. In Ivan’s case, they were so invested in saving his life, they would not talk to her about donating his organs.

Jessica Sergeev said she never expected to have to make life-and-death decisions for her 26-year-old husband. She said Ivan was trying to get into medical school at the time of his death, and she knew he would want to help people. 

“Ivan signed up to be an organ donor on his own. It was reassuring that he made the choice,” she said. “The fact he had taken the initiative and wanted to help other people live full lives has helped me.”

Jessica Sergeev is (and Ivan was) a member of The Vine Church in Carbondale. While Ivan was fighting for his life in St. Louis, another member of the church was waiting for lifesaving a kidney transplant. When a friend reminded Jessica of him, she asked MTS staff if she could designate one of Ivan’s kidneys for him.

If Ivan’s kidney was a match, the recipient would have to meet other criteria. If he met those criteria, he could receive the kidney. Ivan was a match, and a member of their church family lives a full life because of Ivan’s decision.

“It has been a comfort for me to see that life still goes on, literally,” Jessica Sergeev said.

Her friend travels with his family and coaches soccer, things he would not have been able to do while on dialysis.

But, even organ donation is not the end of this young couple’s story.

A memorial service was planned for Ivan on Aug. 15, 2014. Jessica, who was staying with a friend, woke up a little nauseated. She explained that she had taken a pregnancy test while Ivan was in the hospital because of nausea, but it was negative. She thought the stress of the situation was the root of the problem.

Since she had another test, she decided to take one more test. This time the results were positive.

“It was the best and worst at the same time. I attribute the timing to God,” Jessica Sergeev said.

She calls her 3-year-old son God’s gift to her and their family, as well as a continuation of their story. It has helped keep her connected to Ivan’s family in Russia. She said you can’t keep grandparents away from their grandchildren, even when they are from Russia to Carbondale apart.

Jessica looks forward to the day when she can tell her son that his daddy was a hero and saved lives.

“It’s been an awful ride, but I’m glad God put these people on this roller coaster with me to hold my hand,” Jessica Sergeev said. “I would encourage everyone who would consider organ donation to sign up.”

In 2017, 718 organs were transplanted from 223 local donors saving a record number of lives in the region Mid-America Transplant Services covers. That number includes 312 kidneys, 181 livers, 139 lungs, 59 hearts, 24 pancreases and three intestines. An additional 93,000 people received tissue transplants.

In Illinois, register to be an organ donor at

April is National Donate Life Month. In Illinois, register to be an organ donor at

Van kills 10, injures 15 on Toronto street; driver in custody

TORONTO — A 25-year-old in a rented van plowed down a Toronto sidewalk crowded with lunchtime strollers Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 in what appeared to witnesses and the city's police chief as a deliberate attack. The driver was quickly arrested in a tense but brief confrontation with officers a few blocks away.

Witnesses and the police chief said the driver, identified by authorities as Alek Minassian, was moving fast and appeared to intentionally jump a curb in the North York neighborhood as people filled the sidewalks on a warm afternoon. He continued for more than a mile, knocking out a fire hydrant and leaving bodies strewn in his wake.

Officials would not comment on a possible motive except to play down a possible connection to terrorism, a thought that occurred to many following a series of attacks involving trucks and pedestrians in Europe and the presence in Toronto this week of Cabinet ministers from the G7 nations.

Still, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said he did not think it was an accident.

"The incident definitely looked deliberate," Saunders said at a news conference Monday night as he announced that the initial death toll of nine had risen to 10 after another victim died at a hospital. He said 15 others were hospitalized.

Saunders said Minassian, who lives in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, had not been known to police previously.

Asked if there was any evidence of a connection to international terrorism, the chief said only, "Based on what we have there's nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time."

A senior national government official said earlier that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name.

Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.

"I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation," Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said earlier.

The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June. Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the incident a "horrific attack" and said the G7 foreign ministers extended their condolences.

The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.

Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.

"He just went on the sidewalk," a distraught Shaker said. "He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit."

Witness Peter Kang told CTV News the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.

"If it was an accident he would have stopped," Kang said. "But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped."

Video broadcast on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the driver after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in the North York neighborhood of northern Toronto. He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away.

Witness Phil Zullo told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting the suspect and people "strewn all over the road" where the incident occurred.

"I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers," Zullo said. "It was awful. Brutal."

Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the incident and Toronto's transit agency said it had suspended service on the subway line running through the area.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies for those involved.

"We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities," he said. "We are monitoring this situation closely, and will continue working with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians."

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On Germany trip, Rauner courts 'perfect' investors for Southern Illinois

CARBONDALE — Gov. Bruce Rauner’s current trip to Germany and Poland could result in economic development for Southern Illinois, the governor said Monday morning.

In a phone interview with The Southern Illinoisan, Rauner said many of the companies his team has been speaking with are perfect investors to build factories, distribution centers, and offices in Southern Illinois. He didn’t mention anything specific, adding that the state has commitments, but he's not ready to make an announcement.

The governor did say there is a company in Poland that expressed a desire to build a factory manufacturing agriculture equipment, which would be great for central or Southern Illinois.

“There is a lot of potential (for Southern Illinois),” Rauner said.

Rauner said he met with representatives from Continental Tire, which is a headquartered in Hanover, Germany. Continental Tire also has a large facility in Mount Vernon, and Rauner said the company is pleased with its performance. In fact, he said the company was interested in adding to its workforce.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti took a tour of the Mount Vernon facility Monday morning to discuss the importance of manufacturing jobs and foreign investment in the state’s economy.


Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti talks with employees of Continental Tire in Mount Vernon. Her tour of the facility was in conjunction with Gov. Bruce Rauner's international tour to Germany and Poland, where the governor also met with German employees of Continental Tire.

“Our location, workforce, and transportation infrastructure make us an ideal candidate for foreign investment,” Sanguinetti said in a statement. “It is important that we continue to grow our manufacturing sector. The governor and I are working hard so that companies like Continental locate and thrive here, bringing with them more jobs and opportunity.”

As for the rest of the state, Rauner said there are more than 200 German companies in Illinois that employ more than 36,000 people. He said a majority of those businesses are growing dramatically and his trip was to assure them that Illinois is still a good home.

Rauner said his team has also met with several companies that don’t know much about the state, but are interested in its prospects.

“We are meeting with a lot of companies that don’t know Illinois that well yet but they are looking to expand in America and they are very excited with all the advantages of investing in Illinois,” Rauner said.

In order for businesses to expand or build in the state, a healthy workforce is required, he said.

“We want to make sure the folks in Illinois, our young people, are exceptionally well-trained and well-educated,” Rauner said. “That is why I dramatically increased school funding.”

He said he has added more than $1.2 billion in school funding since he has been elected. Additionally, he touted expanding apprenticeship programs in Illinois high schools. He said that training allows the people who don’t go to college to be well-equipped to take advantage of trade opportunities throughout the state.

“Growing our economy and creating more good-paying jobs is the No. 1 priority,” Rauner said. “Every challenge we have in the state can be overcome if we grow more jobs and expand our tax base.”

The governor said most of the trip was self-financed and the part that wasn’t was mostly paid for by Intersect Illinois, a job creation organization that gets most of its budget from donations from the business community.

“This trip costs almost nothing for taxpayers,” Rauner said.

The governor and his team will leave Germany Tuesday to return to Illinois.

A campaign spokeswoman for Democratic Illinois gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker said in a statement that public showings can't undo what Rauner has done to the state.

“Publicity stunts and empty rhetoric can’t change the fact that Bruce Rauner has badmouthed Illinois, created statewide instability and fiscal devastation, and driven jobs and businesses out of this state," Jordan Abudayyeh said.

Pritzker will face Rauner in the gubernatorial election in November.

bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

Murphysboro's Maci Uffelman (2) heads the ball on goal as Highland's Kealy Korte (9) defends on Monday in Murphysboro. Murphysboro went on to win 3-0.

SIU Carbondale hires associate chancellor for enrollment management


CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University Carbondale has hired an associate chancellor for enrollment management, filling a job that had been vacant since 2014.

Jennifer DeHaemers, former associate vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will join SIUC as associate chancellor for enrollment management on May 14, 2018.

Her appointment, announced by SIUC chancellor Carlo Montemagno, follows a national search. It fills a role that had been vacant since 2014 and had not been filled on a full-time basis since 2011.

Montemagno said DeHaemers will lead the development of a comprehensive, multi-year recruitment plan and oversee the offices of admissions, financial aid, bursar and registrar.

“Jennifer is a data-driven, student-centered enrollment management leader who understands the challenges we face at SIU,” Montemagno said. “She brings a collaborative approach and experience developing and implementing a strategic enrollment plan. I’m confident that she will help us move in the right direction.”

Her hiring comes as SIUC grapples with falling enrollment. According to previous reporting in The Southern, Carbondale's sister SIU campus in Edwardsville is expected to surpass Carbondale in terms of enrollment this fall. Montemagno has said previously that Carbondale's freshman enrollment for fall 2018 is projected to fall below 1,000 students.

DeHaemers was associate vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at UMKC from 2011 to 2017 and served as assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management from 2007 to 2011.

As associate vice chancellor, she oversaw university-wide enrollment planning and the development of a strategic enrollment plan. She also collaborated with academic units and other departments to carry out the university’s recruitment strategy. The university’s enrollment grew from 15,492 in fall 2011 to 16,383 in fall 2017.

She has also served as UMKC’s director of admissions and international student affairs and as associate director, interim director and director of admissions. She joined UMKC in 1997 after serving for eight years recruiting students for Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City.

DeHaemers holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Missouri and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“SIU Carbondale provides a great opportunity to have an impact at an institution that recruits and serves a diverse student body,” DeHaemers said. “I was attracted to its mission, the chancellor’s vision for the future, and the openness and commitment of everyone I met. I know there’s much work to do, and I’m eager to get started.”

— The Southern staff contributed to this report.

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Brothers Osborne set to perform at 2018 Du Quoin State Fair

Brothers Osborne are set to perform at the 2018 Du Quoin State Fair.

DU QUOIN — Country duo The Brothers Osborne have been added to the 2018 Du Quoin State Fair grandstand lineup.

According to a news release from fair organizers, the singers — who have been named Vocal Duo of the Year two years in a row by the Academy of Country Music — is billed as this year's headliner. They will perform at the fair on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Along with being honored as Vocal Duo of the Year, the pair has also been awarded Video of the Year for "It Ain't my Fault." Their debut album "Pawn Shop" had four Top 40 hits, including "Rum," "Stay a Little Longer" and "21 Summer."

Tickets are not for sale yet, and organizers have not yet announced when they will go on sale.

Prices for the Brothers Osborne show are $29 for Tier 3, $32 for Tier 2 and $35 for Tier 1.

More musical acts will be announced in the coming weeks.

So far, two other grandstand concerts have been announced:

  • Cheap Trick will perform on Sunday, Aug. 26. Ticket prices range from $21 to $27.
  • The Gen-X Tour takes the stage on Friday, Aug. 31, including performances by Buckcherry, P.O.D., Lit and Alien Ant Farm. Ticket prices range from $19 to $25.

The Du Quoin State Fair runs this year from Aug. 24 to Sept. 3. For more information, visit, or