Monday morning, donor families gathered at MSU for a flag raising ceremony, marking the start of National Donate Life Month. A month that those families hope bring about an increase in donorship for years to come.
Included in those families are two women, with two different yet similarly tragic stories about their loved ones.
“She had a myocardial infarction,” Terri Whitgrove said.
“He was in a car-wreck,” Vicky Blair said.
Blair was referring to her son Shon, who died in a car accident in January 2014 at the age of 17. Whitgrove lost her 45-year-old sister Tracy to a heart attack on Thanksgiving Day 2018.
Out of those unimaginable losses though, many people have gained a special gift: the gift of life.
“She wanted to be an organ donor, due to the nature of her death, that disqualified her from being an organ donor. But she was a fantastic tissue donor,” Whitgrove said.
“Shon saved seven lives from around the country, not just in Texas,” Blair said. “After Shon’s death, there were approximately 50 kids and adults in Archer City alone that registered to be organ donors.”
Whitgrove is United Regional’s Director of Pastoral Care Services and said she and her family are still hurting following her sister’s death. But her sister’s untimely passing makes her more effective in her ministry.
“It’s actually a very powerful way to connect with other families who are going through loss. Because of this experience, I feel that I’ve become a better chaplain,” Whitgrove said.
Both Whitgrove and Blair said if someone’s ever considered becoming an organ donor, if they choose to become one, they won’t regret it and they’ll carry the following thoughts with them forever.
“You were able to save somebody’s life,” Blair said.
“That’s the greatest gift one could give is to lay down there life for another,” Whitgrove said.
In addition to April being National Donate Life Month, April 22 through April 26 is National Pediatric Transplant Week.
For more on how you or someone you know can make a difference, click here.