Tuesday’s Tale – A New Purpose
I never thought my dad’s death would influence the career path I took in college, the opportunities I received and ultimately where I would end up working. Thanks to my dad, five people received the “Gift of Life” – and I ended up with a purpose.
When I was a junior in high school, I was in marching band. I was blessed to have parents who were my number one fans – always helping out the band when they could and supporting me. After winning grand champions at our first competition of the season, my dad found me, gave me a huge hug and told me that he loved me and was proud of me. The next morning, my dad had a brain aneurysm that ruptured and despite all the best efforts of medical staff at a local hospital, the following day, he died.
When my mother was asked about donation, she included my brother and me in the decision process. This occurred in 1999, before the Ohio Donor Registry was created and we had never discussed donation together as a family, so we were unsure of my dad’s wishes. Honestly, it was challenging to make the decision at the time because we were facing an unexpected tragedy.
My dad was a “Renaissance man.” He could do just about anything. Help me with my chemistry lab, build a shed, install windows, roast a delicious ham, you name it. He loved being outside, fishing, and hiking. And he was well known for being the first to step up and offer help when needed. Why not add saving lives to the list of things he could do?
We decided that he would want to continue to give after his death. He did so by donating his heart, kidneys, pancreas, and liver and saved five lives on Sept.20, 1999. His gift to others was also a gift to me and my family. We are not only comforted by the fact that he could give in his death, but also grateful that he had the ability to be a hero.
Inspired by my dad, I began promoting donation on campus at The Ohio State University, started the Students for Organ Donation group, and on the 11th anniversary of his donation, I began working as the community education coordinator for Lifeline of Ohio.
I get to share my dad’s story and hopefully it inspires others to give the ultimate gift, the Gift of Life, like my dad did. It is now my personal mission to educate people and encourage them to sign up as organ and tissue donors in the Ohio Donor Registry and talk to their families about donation.