The Face of Organ Donation: David’s Story

He was 26 when he died. He was a father, a son, a husband and a brother. He had a smile that seemed to light up a room. His hair, if he let it grow, became as curly as a corkscrew. His name was David, and in an instant, he was gone.

No one is really sure what happened the night that David died. He was in his car, driving home from a friend’s house. Home to his family who loved him: home to his children who adored him. No one knows why David’s car left the road and struck a pole. Some believe him to have been blinded by the sun shining brightly in his eyes. Still others believe that a previous eye problem clouded his vision and he couldn’t see where he was going. Many wonder if he perhaps fell asleep while driving. After all, he was exhausted from a long day at work. What is known, by everyone is that it was the first and only time that David did not have his seatbelt on. David’s car left the road and hit a pole. Because he was not belted in, David received major trauma to his brain from the force of the accident.

David was taken to the hospital; he was on life support. His head injury so severe, that doctors were not sure he would make it. They worked hard to keep him alive, as doctors do. David’s family was all there. The stayed with David for several days, hoping he would wake up and heal from his injuries. Unfortunately, that did not happen. David’s family had to make a decision. They were told that David had no brain function and that he would not live if removed from life support. Imagine being a mother, holding your son’s hand, knowing that you needed to make this kind of decision? Should David continue on the life support, or should he be removed? The family made their decision, doing what they believe David would have wanted them to. They needed to let David go.

Not surprisingly, the topic of organ donation came up. Did David have an organ donor card? No. Did David state on his driver’s license that he wanted to be an organ donor? No. Did David ever mention to his loved ones that should something happen to him, he would want to donate his organs? Yes. David had previously shared with his mother that if he should die unexpectedly, he wanted his healthy organs to go to someone in need.

Now a decision had to be made. Did the family think David really wanted to donate his organs? Yes, they did. Because they loved him, his family granted David’s wish to donate his organs, in turn saving five lives. David, in a way his family can totally understand, was still giving to others, even though he was gone.

David’s organs were donated. They were donated to five people, who otherwise would have died without them. He gave his kidneys, his liver, his pancreas, and his heart. Because of David, five people lived.

One of those five people was my mother. She received David’s heart in March of 2004. She had battled a genetic heart condition for her entire life, and her heart was failing. She was going to die without a new heart. Because of David, she now is living a healthy and happy life. She has energy she never knew she could have. Because of David, she is alive.

David is the true hero in all of this. Because of his wish to donate his organs, five people are alive today. David’s heart is beating in my mother’s chest. We could never repay David or his family for the gift he gave to us. We cannot take away the pain that his family has from losing him. We cannot ever personally thank David, and we are incredibly saddened that it took the loss of David’s life for my mom to live. We know that David’s children will not have their father to hug, or that his mother will not have her son to hold. David’s wife lost her true love. It just doesn’t seem fair.

What my family can do is rejoice each day in David. We can celebrate the fact that David was unselfish enough, and his family loving enough, to see the importance of organ donation. What we can do is listen to David’s heart beating in my mother’s chest and send up a thank you to David for his gift. We can educate others about the importance of organ donation. But most importantly, we can put a human touch on those who choose to donate. We can put a face to the words “organ donor”, and we will start with David. He is the face of choosing to donate. He will never be forgotten, as he lives on in five strangers. He is David, an organ donor. He was a father, a husband, a son, and a brother. We will never forget.

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