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Friday, March 13, 2009

Brent's Story

When I was expecting my second child my doctor told me that I was having a girl who was due the first week in December. I was surprised on Nov. 3, 1990, a month early, when I gave birth to my SON, Brent, and in total shock when his twin brother, Nicholas, was born 18 minutes later.

They were typical twins, complete opposites. Brent was the fearless leader and Nick was the cautious, protective follower. Brent was all sunshine. He totally embraced life, believing that he knew everything and could do anything, that nothing was beyond his grasp. He found only the positive in even the worst situations and would do or give anything he could to help others or make them happy, very often putting their needs and happiness before his own. He understood and enjoyed the true spirit of giving. It is with these thoughts that I made the most difficult decision of my life, but one that I have never regretted.

On April 13, 1998 Nick came home from school and announced that Brent had been hit by a car. Nothing could have prepared me for the shock of finding my 8 year old son, laying in the street 90 feet from the crosswalk. We found out later that a woman, already an hour late for work, accelerated through a red light and barely missed Nick but hit Brent.

Brent was such a fighter and loved life so much it never entered my mind that he wouldn’t survive—even when he was airlifted to the hospital or when my family was led to a private waiting room, away from others. When we were told that he was brain-dead I understood what it meant but didn’t want to accept it. When we were finally allowed to see Brent I could actually feel that he was no longer with us. I knew that “the organ donor people” would want to speak to me and I didn’t want to see them, but I did.

Lisa from [OneLegacy] was extremely compassionate and patient. She made sure that we understood what had happened to Brent, the organ donation program and procedures and the options that we had. My husband and I had agreed on organ donation for ourselves but never imagined we’d have to consider it for one of our five sons.

We needed time to think about it. While discussing it with my family, my sister Terry pointed out that Brent was such a giving child she was sure he would want to leave this last gift. It reminded me of when Brent learned that my friend’s toddler was blind and asked if he could give him one of his eyes so the child could see. I also asked myself how I’d feel if one of my children NEEDED an organ—I’d certainly hope it would be available.

We decided to donate Brent’s major organs and have never regretted it. In fact, it gives me a sense of peace knowing that Brent did not die for nothing. Brent’s organs helped five people. We have met and communicate often with one of Brent’s organ recipients and occasionally write and speak to another. I feel very close to them because we share something very special – Brent.

I believe that losing a twin is worse than losing a child. I doubt that Nick will ever feel whole again but knowing that five people are still alive because of his twin has helped him to find some peace.

Brent once wrote that he wanted to help people when he grew up. He didn’t get the chance to grow up but he did get the chance to help some very special people by giving the most precious of gifts.

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