The Gift of Life, When the Telephone Rings, Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, Op-Ed
NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Denice Klavano, Brad Howell's mom.
And just then the phone rang, and I heard someone ask, "Do you have a son named Brad Howell?"
It was the police.
I was told there had been an accident and I should go to the hospital immediately.
I gathered my things and quickly told my other children that Brad had been in an accident, and I was going to the hospital. I assured them that it was probably nothing; maybe a broken arm or leg, and we would both be home soon.
I didn't yet know that my precious 18-year-old son was dying.
At the hospital, I was greeted by a nurse and she started walking me to the family room.
My heart stopped. I knew something was very wrong.
Everything slowed down and out of the corner of my eye I saw a priest.
In those brief moments, my world completely imploded. The devastation was total. Brad was dead.
I couldn't speak. I sat in the family room in stunned silence with the doctor.
I remember staring blankly at the doctor's shoes, and how well they matched the pattern of the floor tiles.
Then his kind voice punctured the silence, he asked if Brad would have wanted to be an organ or tissue donor.
It was a courageous question, and Brad had already made this courageous decision.
My son's words quickly came back to me. When we discussed being organ and tissue donors, Brad flashed me his easy smile, gestured to his body and said, "Mom, this is just a rental."
In the hours and days following Brad's death, I had to make dozens of decisions. I felt ill equipped to answer many, and there were so many choices I thought I'd never have to make.
What would you like him to wear? Cremation or burial? Which cemetery? What church? The decisions were endless and difficult.
Yet, the decision to donate was easy and simple. Yes, most definitely yes.
Organ donors can save the lives of up to eight people. Tissue donation can help over 40 more who are waiting for gifts of health, sight or mobility.
When you choose to be a donor, upon your death, your gifts can change disease to health, blindness to sight, despair to hope. This is most certainly a legacy of love, a legacy of grace and a wonderful way to honour life, and the lives of those we love.
Brad enriched our lives with his kindness, humour and love. I believe that these traits live on in those who received his gifts of donation. And when they laugh, I am sure there is an echo of Brad's spirit. And he, too, is smiling.
Please discuss donation with your family, and register as an organ and tissue donor.
For more information, visit www.legacyoflife.ns.ca .