Brenda E. Cortez

Brenda is a living kidney donor and children’s book author, who has a passion for helping others. She was inspired to write her first book, My Mom is Having Surgery, after her daughter centered her college entrance essay around Brenda’s donation and the inspiration she felt from it. Brenda is now a strong advocate for living donation awareness. Because of this advocacy and her passion for helping others, Brenda came up with the slogan, HOWL: Help Others with Love. Learn more about HOWL, and Brenda’s organ donation focused children’s books below.

Children’s Books

Click on the links below to learn more about each book and to purchase.

Each book purchased will be personally signed by the author, Brenda, and will include a Howl the Owl bookmark!

My Mom is Having Surgery – A Kidney Story – Click to buy!
Howl Helps Others – Click to buy!
Howl Gets a Heart – Click to buy!
Howl Helps Bella – Click to buy!
Howl Learns About Kidneys & Dialysis – Click to buy!
Howl Goes to the Races – Click to buy!
Howl Loves his new Liver – Click to buy!
Howl Inspires Mr. YNOTT – Click to buy!
Howl Competes at the Transplant Games – Click to buy!

For any orders shipping outside of the US, please email Brenda directly to place your order.

Bundle Deal: Purchase all eight of Brenda’s books for just $79.99! *If you want to order a variety other than the bundle, email Brenda at


Book & Plush Howl Combo

Howl makes a great book buddy companion and can’t wait to snuggle up! Choose the book you want with your plush Howl the Owl from the drop down menu. Save $3 with this special combo package!

Choose Your Book

HOWL the Owl

Howl the Owl is a 8″ plush owl. Howl the Owl makes a great gift for all ages while helping spread the message of HOWL™ (Help Others With Love)! He is also a great snuggle buddy while reading a Howl the Owl book!

Read this testimony from someone who recently received their very own Howl the Owl:

“When we got home from the hospital we had a package waiting for us. The kids opened it and LOVE it. It truly made our day! Someone who I have never met, but is a member at our old church sent us a children’s book about organ donation along with tattoos and a stuffed animal. We love it! I read the book to the kids and all of them continued to say, “oh, that sounds like us, like what our family went through.”

Plush Howl -Quantity

 Because of Organ Donation

In this book, you will find 25 different stories of hope, kindness, despair, and healing shared by transplant recipients, living donors, and donor families. Because of organ donation, their lives have forever changed.

Each chapter will tug at your heartstrings as you read about people struggling to stay alive, and ultimately relying on the generosity of another human being, or the kindness of a beautiful soul and their grieving family.

You will hear how living donors graciously donated an organ, sometimes even two organs; often to a stranger. You will also learn about donor families who were able to think of others during their most heartbreaking moment, offering to let their loved-ones legacy live on in a stranger.

Quantity w/shipping




Brenda Cortez lives in Franklin, Wisconsin with her husband Shawn and their two dogs. They have two grown children, Kailey and Kyle. At the time of Brenda’s kidney donation in 2005, when My Mom Is Having Surgery took place, Kailey was in the fifth grade, and Kyle in second grade. Brenda was inspired to write her book after Kailey centered her college entrance essay around Brenda’s donation and the inspiration she felt from it. Brenda is now a strong advocate for living organ donation awareness.  Because of this advocacy and her passion for helping others, she came up with the HOWL slogan (Help Others With Love) and the idea of Howl the Owl came to life.


“The story behind my story started back in September of 2004. I was volunteering at my children’s school, which is also connected to our church, St. Jacobi Lutheran. I was setting up a fundraising event for the school and needed other parents to help unload a truck of food being delivered. One of the mom’s I asked was Pam. I was acquainted with Pam since our kids were in the second and fifth grade together. Pam said she could help that time, but would not be able to after that due to the fact that she was getting a fistula implanted in her arm to begin dialysis. Pam told me her kidneys were failing (only working at 17%) due to a disease she’s had for many years. I asked Pam what was required to be a living kidney donor. She said she needed someone with O blood type since she has O+ blood. I told her I have O- blood type, and asked what I needed to do to get tested. It was at the point that I knew in my heart that I would be a match for Pam. Within a month, I was giving 13 tubes of blood for testing, and then took the long Q&A test to make sure I was mentally competent to give away a living part of myself. By the end of November, we found out I was officially a match. A month later I underwent a complete physical, which included a CT scan to be sure I indeed had two kidneys and where they were located. I passed all the tests and it was decided I could donate my left kidney, which is the preferred one to take due to easier disconnection. I was also going to be one of the first at our hospital (Froedert in Milwaukee, WI) to have the surgery performed laparoscopically. Our surgery was performed on Wednesday, March 23, 2005. I went home four days later on Easter Sunday. During the few months prior to the transplant, our church held some fundraisers for Pam and myself to help with medical costs for Pam, and help me with lost wages. Pam’s insurance covered my part of the surgery.” – Brenda Cortez, Author


“Nevada Donor Network was honored to offer HOWL THE OWL stories to more than a hundred donor families with young children who attended our Donor Remembrance Ceremony this year. Meeting the author and taking home a plush HOWL along with the book made the experience extra special for our young guests. We extend our most sincere thanks to Brenda and HOWL for being in attendance at the event and offering their stories of hope, strength, and life to the youngest family members of courageous donor heroes. We plan to offer these books full of love for many years to come and are actively looking into other opportunities to share HOWL’s stories.’

– Kelli Little, Community Services Supervisor, Nevada Donor Network

“Brenda’s book has been a wonderful tool for our transplant center to provide to potential donors who have young children. Many children have concerns when they learn that their parent will be going into surgery. Brenda’s book helps explain the process so that children know what to expect, alleviates their fears, and encourages them to be proud of their parent for giving the gift of life to someone else in need.”

Allison Stephans, MSW, APSW, Abdominal Transplant Social Worker

“I really enjoyed Brenda’s book. Last year my mom also donated a kidney and I had mixed emotions as well, so reading her book really helped me understand the process and know what to expect. It was great! My own kids thought it was neat there was a book about donating a kidney. It helped them understand it better too.”

Michele Wesner, Living Donor Family Member, UW Hospital


Click to learn about Brenda’s media attention and events.


Hire Brenda to present her books, organ donation, her HOWL message, and/or literacy to your school or group.

$100/hour assembly

$200/half day

$250/whole day

*Talk to Brenda about a fee discount for author visits when a bulk book order is placed.


March 12: Author visit at St. John’s Lutheran School, Sparta Wisconsin
March 24: Book signing/TGA Flag signing at Froedtert Hospital Community Room, 5:00-8:00
April 18: Central Wisconsin Gift of Life Scavenger Hunt. Wisconsin Rapids

Brenda Cortez with fellow Donate Life Supporting Author, Robert Horsey. Click here to learn more about Robert’s novel, Gifted.


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