Luke’s Story – Love Others and Help Others
Bege’s son Luke never knew a stranger. The eldest of three boys, Luke was a scholar, an athlete and always had a smile on his face. “He was dearly loved,” his mom said.
Bege’s family often discussed organ, eye and tissue donation, as Bege was a chaplain at a local hospital, had worked as a paramedic and is a Lutheran pastor. When, as a faith leader, Bege was privileged to sit with a family in a life and death situation, she was always aware in the midst of that despairing time, that a word of hope was needed. In the time of the “why” questions, she tried to provide some hint of comfort. She recognized that if families could have that donation conversation before they were in a tragic situation that the donation discussion would be easier to have if and when the time came. And that’s why, when Luke got his driver license and showed his mother he was a registered donor, his family was very proud of his decision.
Sadly, just a few short years later, Bege’s family got the call no parent wants to receive. Luke had been in a motorcycle accident and was severely injured. Luke’s family gathered at the hospital and prayed for his recovery. Despite the hospital’s best efforts to save Luke, he died on August 24, 1994. Even with Bege’s work experience as a paramedic and chaplain, her life as a Mom did not prepare her for the agony, shock, and gut-wrenching grief of watching her son Luke die. Now, she was on the other side, needing the support, love, gentleness, and honest truth that she had so often given to others.
The conversation Bege and her husband had with Luke the day he got his license made it easier for Bege’s family to donate Luke’s heart, liver, pancreas, one kidney and his tissue. Because Luke passed away before the Ohio Donor Registry was created, his loved ones were asked to make the donation decision. As people of faith, Bege and her family subscribed to the Christian belief that we should be taught to love others, and to help others in need. “We think about the things Luke isn’t here for,” said Bege. “He’s missing neat things and that’s really hard.” Yet Bege says donation brings some sense to Luke’s death, “It’s a glimmer of the light he used to bring to our lives.”
Bege asserts, that within the Christian tradition, we could say the Jesus was a “donor”, and gave his whole life, his whole body for us. She calls donation the “ultimate resurrection” of bringing life out of death. “We have one guarantee in life. We all will die. Why not bless others with a second chance at life, when your time on earth has ended?”