Daniel Hoover’s mother did not know he was a donor until doctors asked about his organs.Daniel was engaged to be married and preparing to start a new job — “he had his whole life ahead of him,” his mother said.
“Maybe it was to get my attention or to save my life,” his mother, Deborah Hoover, 48, of Hallsville, said.Her story is one of many filled with grief, gratitude and generosity, brought together at the Celebration of Giving and Living event, sponsored by the nonprofit Southwest Transplant Alliance, Saturday afternoon at the Rose Garden Center.
Southwest Transplant Alliance exists to save and improve lives by providing organs and tissues for transplantation. The alliance is the official link between people needing an organ to survive and people with the potential to save lives by becoming donors, according to its website.In July 2003, Daniel, 21, was moving new furniture to a woman’s home. Suddenly, he fell to his knees in cardiac arrest. He had suffered a massive aneurism in a main brain artery.
The homeowner happened to be a nurse who gave Daniel CPR for 45 minutes while the ambulance arrived, Ms. Hoover said.Later that day, doctors at Good Shepard Hospital in Longview told Ms. Hoover there was no chance of survival and asked about her son’s organs.
“It never crossed my mind; I didn’t even know Daniel already made the decision,” Ms. Hoover said. “I didn’t even want to deal with it.”
While the hospital experience was excruciatingly difficult, “after it was all said and done, I was proud of him,” Ms. Hoover said.At the funeral, there was no difference in Daniel’s appearance.
“He was laying there in the casket with his eyes closed,” she said; however, doctors had removed Daniel’s big brown eyes.
Before Daniel’s death, she had been a methamphetamine addict. She said Daniel’s death was a wakeup call. These days, she is drug-free and working a full-time job.
She said Daniel would be proud of her, too.
A man who had liver cancer is alive today because of Daniel. Another young man, about Daniel’s age, is alive because of Daniel’s kidneys.
Ms. Hoover received a letter with a long list of people saved because of her son. She cannot remember many of the names or situations. She said she prefers not to meet Daniel’s recipients.
“I feel like they have their lives, let them have their lives,” she said. “I know my son has a big part in it.”
According to the transplant alliance, as of March 1, 1,784 Texans were awaiting liver transplants and 8,139 Texans await kidney transplants.
As of March 16, 1,500,000 Texans were registered organ donors, according to information from the transplant alliance.
For Amber McCullough, another visitor to the transplant alliance event Saturday, meeting her husband’s organ recipients is a powerful experience that helps with the grieving process.
“On June 15, 2009, one life was lost, which saved four,” she said.
When Justin, 22, died, Mrs. McCullough said she had no trouble with the decision to donate her husband’s organs.
His organs have helped people more than twice his age, including a 51-year-old man who received a liver donation, a 65-year-old man who received Justin’s right kidney, and a 45-year-old man who received Justin’s left kidney and pancreas.
“I know that’s what he would have wanted,” Mrs. McCullough said.
She met the recipient of her husband’s heart for the first time Saturday.
That recipient, Shebra Collins, 52, of Fort Worth, summed up the event with a Bible verse from John 15:13: “One can show no greater regard for those dear to him than to give his life for them.”
In 2008, after living nearly a year with Lupus, doctors said they had done all they could do. She soon started a screening process for a heart transplant and, as if it were a miracle, she was free of the disease. However, she was left with its debilitating effects.
“Though we preach love, I’ve experienced love in a way that is overwhelming and wonderful,” Mrs. Collins said. “… I’m so happy that I’m living a brand new kind of life.”
She said the transplant alliance event is “bittersweet.”
“Loving people, giving people, whose hearts are as big as the world … your loved ones are still fulfilling a life of virtue and joy,” she said.
Published April 17
Tyler Morning Telegraph