5: Heartfelt Gift

5: Heartfelt Gift

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Heartfelt Gift

The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.

~Corrie Ten Boom

Easter was always my favorite holiday. The weather started warming up, flowers were blooming, and the Easter Bunny was so much fun. But most importantly, it is a day to remember the resurrection of Christ.

Every year I would pick out special things to fill my children’s Easter baskets—the usual candy as well as other fun items. As they grew older I continued to fill their baskets just as I did when they were younger. When asked how long I would continue this, I responded, “Until I am no longer here to do it for you.”

Three years ago Easter Sunday started with giving our seventeen-year-old son his basket and seeing the joy on his face as he looked through it. We then went to church and had our Easter dinner.

That was the last normal moment in my life. I lost my son to a tragic accident that very day.

He was taken to the nearby hospital. Doctors did all they could, but my son showed no brain activity and I was told he would not pull through. They asked if we would consider donating his organs to Gift of Life.

I never thought twice about being an organ donor myself. But when asked to donate my seventeen-year-old son’s organs, my emotions went everywhere. If they took his organs, it would be real and I did not want it to be real. Finally, I was able to pull it together and agreed to donate his organs.

Now Gift of Life had a lot of work ahead of them in finding perfect matches for my son’s organs. But almost immediately they came back with a perfect match for his heart—a sixteen-year-old girl who lived in another state. Even though Gift of Life normally stays within our own region, this match was too good to pass up, so they went out of state. Over the next twenty-four-plus hours, Gift of Life kept us updated as to where our son’s other organs were going. A few times throughout this process they told us his liver or another organ would most likely go to someone, but then changed due to further tissue testing. But from the very beginning, the heart never changed. It would go to the sixteen-year-old girl in another state.

The following afternoon, a close friend of my family told my sister she believed she knew who and where my son’s heart was going. Her friend’s prayer request had gone out in a nearby town for her sixteen-year-old niece, who was about to receive a heart she had been waiting for. A phone call to the aunt of this child pretty much confirmed her niece was the one receiving my son’s heart.

I felt that my guardian angel, or maybe my parents, who I had already lost, brought me this confidential information. It helped me so much to understand that even though I lost my son, he was saving a girl who had been sick since she was eight years old. After that, I had no doubt whatsoever that I had made the right decision to donate my son’s organs.

Gift of Life never broke their confidentiality agreement but since we had all figured it out ourselves, I was able to meet this girl, along with her family, a year after my son’s death. We have all grown close. It is remarkable how much our families have in common. And since we knew the whole story, and we agreed to give up the confidentiality, Gift of Life eventually did confirm that this was the child who received my son’s heart.

~Lisa Benkert

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