By Nancy Wharton, donor wife

Beloved husband. Best friend. An amazing man who had a positive outlook on life. That was my Steve. He and I met our freshman year in college and were together ever since – more than 40 years. This year would have been our 36th wedding anniversary.

Steve never met anyone who didn’t instantly become a friend. He was quick witted and had a great sense of humor. He loved his nieces and nephews as his own, was an avid outdoorsman and just an overall great person.

In my thoughts, Steve and I had many, many more years together. However, that was not meant to be. This past Memorial Day, he didn’t wake up. I called paramedics and he was rushed by ambulance to St. Ann’s Hospital. Despite the heroic efforts of the incredible medical staff, Steve was unable to recover from irreparable brain damage due to lack of oxygen, and passed away.

Steve and I had been registered donors since we were 16. It’s something we were both aware of, but hadn’t discussed all that much. It wasn’t until I was told Steve would never recover that I began to have conversations about honoring his wish to be a donor if at all possible.

He was able to donate corneas, bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves and skin. We know he’s given sight to two and healed dozens of others through tissue donation. It is a hope of mine to someday meet the people my husband has helped. It means the world to my family and I that Steve was able to make such an impact on total stranger’s lives.

As I reflect on my life with Steve, I find myself asking what God’s purpose was with this. And then I think of all the people he so unselfishly gave to. All of the people he is saving through his untimely death. It does my heart good to know he was thoughtful and caring enough to be a registered organ, eye and tissue donor.

I ask you to consider registering today to be a hero of donation, as my husband was. His gifts of sight and tissue were not just healing for his recipients, they are also healing for me as well.