|Early in our married life, my husband Craig and I became organ donors by signing the back of our driver’s license. We never questioned our decisions. We were fortunate to share 39 years of marriage.
Craig was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in 2008, We had many discussions about end of life wishes before surgeries and treatments and organ donation remained a constant. He suffered a cancer related stroke in 2015, but remained strong in his resolve to enjoy life as a cancer and stroke survivor. At 6’6″ tall, it seemed this larger than life husband, father, and grandfather was invincible, but he suffered a massive pulmonary embolism in November 2016.
Given his health history I had no idea whether he could still be an organ donor. I asked about this possibility with a compassionate KODA employee. That night in the ER I gave permission for his corneas to become a gift of sight, as well as other bone, skin or tissues.
In the weeks following, one of the most meaningful gifts our family received was the medal and certificate from KODA. Even more precious was the letter from the Kentucky Eye Bank sharing the news that both corneas were successfully transplanted into 2 grandmothers in central Kentucky. While we were still reeling from the shock of his death and many dark days, this news became a bright spot.
Eleven months later I was surprised to receive an invitation to the annual organ donor ceremony. What an incredible and emotional experience! With quilt square, photo, and memorabilia in hand, my youngest son and mother in law attended the ceremony. I will never forget the sight of the quilts, the courage and compassion of donor family members that welcomed us and shared a bit of their stories. Each activity and speaker wrapped us in love and gratitude for the decision Craig had made. Looking around the room of 200+ family members, I wondered what their donor story was. Every face represented courage, love, and selflessness.
While Craig will always live on in the hearts of his family and friends, there is added comfort and joy knowing that he physically lives on in the cornea recipients. This quote says all that my family and I feel about organ donation: “Be someone’s miracle. Check the box. Be a hero. Be an organ donor.”