They say that c-section babies are so pretty that the Angels must have kissed them. Wesley was just a normal delivery but those Angels didn't know when to quit kissing him. (I think the stork forgot the postage that's why he was a late delivery. ** Wink)
A Mother never really knows how much a child hears while is in their womb, but I think I do. Back then I talked to my babies, sang to them, stayed creative and enjoyed life with laughter and a sense of humor for all those who would never know laughter. And for the sake that my child growing inside of me who would know of the beauty the world really had... Not just be able to grow up and know the difference but make the difference.
Children learn what they live, a saying so true. For within the next sixteen years I would see a beautiful soul expand beyond his young years, with accomplishments and choices that most kids would never think about making. Wesley's life was ended just 2 1/2 months before he would be sixteen, when a drunk driver crashed into him.
Two weeks before his death we were having a family conversation about organ donation. I asked each of our three children what they would want to do if anything ever happened to any of them. All three children agreed that it would be a great thing to donate their organs. Now, that my friends is called "The Greatest Love of All."
Wesley lived two days, he underwent 8 hours of surgery, a massive stroke and then brain death. The Tennessee Donor Services was there. We agreed to let Wesley's wishes be known and that he would be a donor. It is a wonderful gift to give. To know that through life we give life, we lose life and yet give it again. It is a timed circle that must be generated.
It is only through brain death that the heart can be taken for transplant. I am a curious soul, I wanted to know more. I asked how long it took for the heart recovery surgery on Wesley, it was a mere four hours. A surgeon from St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville flew to Chattanooga's Erlanger hospital, performed the removal surgery, took the recovered heart and flew back to the waiting recipient. Wesley's heart was placed into a man who would not have lived much longer.
The waiting man was 51 year old J.R. Richmond. A man who had served his country in the Marines. He lives in Henderson, Kentucky. You want to know how Angel's meet?.. Our last name is Henderson. Wesley was still technically 15, J.R. was 51. We were able to meet and become friends with J. R. and his family. It was an awesome experience embracing a man who's heart beat was once inside your child inside your womb. Only a mother can truly relate to that thought. If we close our eyes we can still hear and feel those very beats even after all these years.
The Organ Donation program is a wonderful way to give that last gift of life, that in your soul you know will be "The Greatest Love of All." It was through Wesley's gift to J.R. that we met a friend of his, who was joyful for the extension of life J.R. now had. Two months later she would be faced with the same decision that we made. She chose organ donation, because Wesley's gift gave her the courage to see first hand the power of "The Greatest Love of All." Her choice helped 144 people of all ages to have a fuller life.
PLEASE CONSIDER GIVING THE GIFT OF LIFE. Become an Organ Donor.
The Tennessee Donor Services is a very special group of beautiful people who have committed their lives to helping others in understanding the transplant process both for the recipient and donor families. I have made friends with those who are in the Chattanooga office. My favorite person to talk to there is Senior Recovery Director, Deirdre McAdams. She decided as a child to help with this great mission.
Deirdre has been with the donor services for 14 years. In talking with her I have learned that the success rate of transplants is about 90% and above in the first year. In 2003 there were 49 heart transplants in Tennessee and 1,774 nationwide for hearts alone. The waiting list is nearly 70,000 people currently for all organs. The Tennessee Donor Services was one of the earlier programs, in existence since the mid 1960's.
Deirdre explains that "donation is a personal decision, it is important to make an informed choice. One should get the facts, make a decision and share the decision with family." She is truly a wise and wonderful soul.
If you want to see a beautiful place that emanates the essence of those who have given the gift of life, that "Greatest Love of All," visit the "Tree of Life Park" in Chattanooga off Bonnie Oaks just past the soccer camp. There is a bench that was donated in memory of Wesley along with several other donor families, and beautiful trees planted every year in memory of all donor families. The park is dedicated to local people who have given the gift of life through organ and tissue donation. It is filled with flowering trees symbolizing how donation is about life, not death.
You can contact the Tennessee Donor Services at 423-756-5736 for more information. It is a wonderful mission with a wonderful cause.
In summing it up I want to say ..
Life is a fragile space that we each experience. Within that space we find the meaning of existence. Within that existence we find love.
Love is a fragile space that we each acknowledge. Through that acknowledgment we find peace and serenity. Within that peace and serenity we find our soul.
Time is a fragile space that we each understand. It is through that understanding that we know life. And it is truly through life that we know and give freely one true gift, "The Greatest Love Of All."
Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!