My 22-year-old daughter Tia had just finished her shift at work at 9pm on a Wednesday. She headed off to see her boyfriend at his place. She was there for maybe 30 min or so when she grabbed her head and fell over on his couch. He called an ambulance, and she was taken to the hospital. Her boyfriend made a quick stop at our home on his way to the hospital to let my husband now what had happened. I was out at my dart night when I received the call. Just as I got to the hospital, we were being advised that we needed to go to another hospital where she was being transferred to. This was around 11pm. I don’t remember all the details other than them saying she needed surgery right away. We said then do it! Do whatever it takes to save her! Rather quickly she was taken into the operating room. I don’t think it was more than 5 minutes later when two surgeons came out to tell us they didn’t think she would make it through surgery and even if she did the damage was too great, she was brain dead. She had a catastrophic brain aneurysm. They must have been viewing the scans from the first hospital and realized just then that there was nothing they could do. From there we were taken into a room to discuss organ and tissue donation. We were in shock and devastated.
We had never discussed organ donation with her, nor did she ever bring it up, but we did know that she was not listed as a donor. This is not an easy nor pleasant decision to have to make on behalf of someone else. I will say that it only took myself, her dad, and her boyfriend maybe a minute, perhaps two to say yes, she would have wanted to help others. She was that kind of person. We agreed to donate her organs and corneas. I just could not bring myself to donate anything more. It is now about 2am Thursday morning and they told us to head home and come back that afternoon as they would be doing more tests to ensure nothing had changed. They told us they did not expect any but would do their due diligence. We were back that afternoon and were in a room with the representative from the Hope program when the doctor came in and told us they had pronounced her. This was around 4pm Thursday. We went and said our goodbyes to our little girl.
Around 8am Friday morning we received a call from our rep at the Hope Program. Tia was in the operating room and her lungs and liver were in the process of being transplanted into two individuals. Later that day/evening her kidneys would be transplanted into two individuals. We found out later that her corneas went to two people. Tia saved and/or made a huge difference to 6 people. She is our hero. However, what if she would have wanted to donate more than just her organs and corneas and help many more people? That is a question we will never get an answer to.
I would encourage everyone to have the conversation with your friends and family. This would eliminate the need to make the decision yourself and then be wondering if you made the right one? Could we have done more? Not to mention it is hard to make a decision like this when you are in shock and trying to come to terms that your loved one is gone.
Knowing that my daughter made a difference to the lives of others has been a tremendous help with the overall grieving process and just knowing that parts of her are still in our world makes it a little easier to live life without her.
I also was not a donor at the time of her passing nor was her boyfriend. I am happy to say we both signed up and a few of my friends and coworkers have since her passing as well. All from having the conversation. No one wants to think about it or may think I have time to make that decision. Tia is an unfortunate example that it could happen to anyone, at anytime, regardless of age and health.