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Donor Stories

The Love of a Father

As I write this it is a beautiful day, June 21, 2002. I’m trying to remember the last time I was happy. I have some good days, but I’m not truly happy. There is something missing.

My oldest son, Chad Michael Kennedy, died March 27, 2002, at the young age of 21. That is the saddest day of my whole life. No parent is ever supposed to bury their children. It’s been 3 months and I think of Chad every day. I don’t understand how this happened. Why me? Why him? He was too young to die. There is a pain in my heart that will never go away. My eyes are filled with tears as I write this, but I know it is important for me to share my story. Maybe it will influence someone to be an organ donor or to donate the organs of their loved ones if they are ever in a situation to make that decision.

Chad was a fun loving boy. He loved his family. He loved to fish and hunt. He was so funny, just fun loving. Every time I saw Chad he wanted to wrestle with me, no matter where we were. At home, in a store, at the library, anywhere. He would approach me in his husky voice, “You want some of me Punk?” “Come on,” I would say and there we would go wrestling around the living room through the dining room where I would get him in a headlock and win. “OK Dad, you win.” I would release him and I would announce my victory to anyone in the house who would listen. “Dad, you know I let you win” Chad would say. The next time I would see him it was the same thing, “You want some of me Punk?” “Come on.”

March 26, 2002 changed my life forever. At 9:33pm I received a devastating phone call saying there was an accident and to get to the hospital. I was the first person to arrive at the hospital. We learned that Chad had been at his cousin’s house when he received a gunshot wound to the head. Other family members arrived quickly. Chad’s health deteriorated rapidly. Around 5:30am a nurse talked to us about organ donation. I’m an organ donor by choice, but I never thought I would need to make that decision for any of my children.

In the past year or two there have been several stories in the paper of children, women, and men needing organs or stories of the families who have donated organs. There are 2 stories of families that I remember that influenced our decision to donate Chad’s organs. The story of Adam Burkhart, a young man of 17 years, in need of a heart and the story of 7-year-old Kyle Dodson whose family members donated his organs. Both of these stories are so very sad. Adam did receive a heart and is doing very well. Because these families shared their very personal stories to the community of Zanesville, they influenced our decision to donate Chad’s organs. I am grateful. The doctor’s pronounced Chad legally Brain Dead at 8:10am on March 27, 2002. As I said before, it is the saddest day of my life. I was there on March 8, 1981 when Chad was born and on March 27, 2002 when Chad died.

We have received a letter from Lifeline of Ohio informing us of the 5 lives that Chad saved. Donating Chad’s organs is the only thing from this tragedy that makes any sense. We are happy for the recipients of Chad’s organs and plan to meet with them as soon as we can. I still long to hold and kiss my boy, but I know he lives on in them. I want them to know about the boy that saved their lives.

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