By Meredith Ulmer, donor family member
On May 30, 1994, I was only two years old. Busy playing with my sisters, watching Barney, you know that hard-to-live toddler life! I was also so proud to be a big sister. Even though I was young, I loved taking care of Molly, my younger sister, and helping my mom do whatever she needed done.
I was too young to remember much of Molly’s personality; my mother had always told me that she was a happy baby. She had light brown hair and brown eyes; just like me. I was playing with my older sister Elizabeth and Molly was napping. My mom was in the kitchen making potato salad for a family Memorial Day picnic and my dad was golfing. It was an ordinary day. This day turned very unordinary when my mom went to wake Molly up from her nap. She picked Molly up to realize she wasn’t breathing.
Frantic and scared, my mom called 911. The emergency squad came to resuscitate my sister but there was nothing they could do. At the hospital a short while later, the doctors said that Molly had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. There is no medical evidence of why an infant dies in this instance; it just happens.
Shocked and confused, my parents were faced with the decision of organ donation. Being registered organ donors themselves, they said “yes” without any hesitation. My mom told me that they always thought donation was just the right thing to do.
For most of my life I never asked much about Molly’s donation. I didn’t know how to ask or what questions to ask.
In January I was hired as Lifeline of Ohio’s communication intern. This is when I became much more curious about Molly’s donation. I finally asked my parents about what was donated. They told me that it was her heart. This was an amazing thing to find out. While I don’t know who received my sister’s heart, it is such a settling feeling knowing that Molly’s passing saved someone’s life.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is something that is hard to deal with. Without there being illness or injury, it is very easy to just be angry and wonder why this happened to my little sister. One thing I have learned from Molly is that everyone’s life has a purpose. Molly’s purpose was to be a happy baby, bring joy into my family’s life for four months and then save the life of someone else.
I am now twenty years old and am proud of my younger sister for her purpose. Not many people can say that their sister was a hero as a four-month-old baby.
Having donation touch my life in such a close way has led me to where I am today. I am now the communications intern at Lifeline of Ohio. When I learned about this internship, I was immediately interested and knew that it was something I wanted to do. I knew that it would be fulfilling and help me grow more as a person.
I have never really been around other donor families (I did not even know the term before this internship.) Meeting other people that share the same sense of pride in their loved ones is an incredible bond. I have always been an advocate of organ donation and I am a donor myself.
Seeing directly how donation truly changes lives, I am more committed to my decision than ever. I am so thankful for this opportunity and appreciate the chance to keep Molly’s memory alive.