April is National Donate Life Month, established by Donate Life America in 2003 to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors, and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation. Below, read the story of Colin as told by his sister, Chanda, who works for Valley’s General Medicine unit.
Who was your loved one and what were they like?
This special loved one is my brother, Colin. He was a simple man, cared for so many including my 13-year-old nephew. He loved family. His presence was gentle and kind. He was always there to help anyone and everyone.
What is his donation story?
Well, Colin didn’t think of donating organs, possibly because he was young. Sometimes it takes someone to ask “Are you an organ donor?” to get the conversation started. When my brother was placed on life support and I was told his brain was shutting down, I realized we could give life to others through Colin.
Were you involved in the decision for your loved one to become a donor? Would you share what that experience was like?
Yes. With so much going through my mind at this time of loss and pain I had to be strong. I was alone. The decision was mine.
We began the process by keeping him on life support to be able to locate recipients for his organs and tissue. The process took nearly 13 hours to get the medical teams on board and prepare to turn off life support and take him to surgery for organ removal. The process is so amazing. I had a social worker stay with me through this entire process and she was so kind and caring and helped assure me I had made a generous decision.
What would you like the team who cared for your loved one to know?
I would like them to know that I am at peace knowing Colin lives through others. I am at peace knowing the decision to donate was a way to save lives and give life to others.
What would you like readers to know about organ donation?
Donate! If you are in a situation and your given this choice, choose life for others! You will feel peace. I was able to heal from the loss of my brother knowing parts of him were still alive!
Anything else you’d like to share?
The loss of my brother Colin was unexpected. He lost his balance and fell and hit the back of his head. He had a massive brain bleed and there wasn’t anything the medical team could do for him.
- Colin’s corneas were successfully transplanted into a 13-year-old male, restoring his vision. I will be able to meet the recipient one day and I can’t wait!
- Colin’s kidneys were successfully transplanted into two males, age 60 and 65.
- Colin’s heart valves were used for a baby’s heart, and all of his tissues were used successfully.
Organ donation is a gift anyone can give. It has no cost–and can be tremendously powerful!
For more information on organ, eye, and tissue donation, visit donatelife.net.
To register as an organ, eye, and/or tissue donor in Washington state: visit LifeCenter Northwest.
For information on Advance Care Planning (ACP), visit Valley’s ACP webpage.