Sam Mackey was the kind of person who enjoyed playing video games, building Lego’s with his 10 year old son Ethan, hanging out with his nephew after school and walking his beloved dog, Maggie around his hometown of Waverly, Ohio. Sam’s mom, Nancy Curry, a Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) employee described him as a “private person, but someone who would be there for you if you needed him. Sam had a heart as big as his body.”
When Sam unexpectedly died at the age of 33 and his family was called about donation, Nancy wasn’t surprised he had registered as a donor. “We didn’t have a family conversation about donation, but when we were told that he was registered, we instantly said ‘that’s Sam.’ Sam always knew what he believed in and had a strong opinion. We knew it was important to honor his wishes.” Nancy worked with Lifeline of Ohio to answer questions about Sam, so that his tissue and corneas could be donated. “It wasn’t easy to answer those questions, but I was very impressed with the support and compassion that was shown to me. They made it as painless as it could be, given the circumstances.”
At Sam’s funeral, many individuals showed up to pay their respects, including some homeless individuals. Sam’s family learned that on his daily walks with Maggie, Sam had brought pop and water to hand out to those who were in need.
Just as giving in life as he was in death, Sam was able to donate his corneas to give the gift of sight to two individuals and was able to donate tissue including veins and bones and his ribs for research.
When Sam died, his mom had been working as a BMV employee for approximately three years. “I asked many people if they wanted to be an organ, eye and tissue donor as part of my job. But until I was touched by donation, I never realized it was such an important question. Now I have a passion to let people know what a big difference my son made as a donor.” Nancy, Sam’s sister Lori, and their family continue to mourn the loss of Sam each and every day. They’ve planted a tree in his honor and both Nancy and Lori take comfort in knowing what a difference he has made in the lives of others.
Nancy reflects on his gifts to others: “I hope in my heart, I can see or know that Sam helped someone walk or see again. And what a legacy he has left for his son Ethan. He is our hero. I want people to know about him and we hope that he has helped many people through his donation.”