Our precious, and seemingly healthy daughter, T’neil D. Martin, was only 17 years old when she suffered a brain bleed caused by an unknown, abnormal connection of blood vessels in her brain that had been present from birth. At the moment the doctor voiced his concern that her condition “could very well take her life”, I felt in my heart that if she did not survive, then we should pay forward the gift of her life to us by donating her organs so that another family would not have to stand in the shoes we were now standing in. In that instance, I knew that organ donation would be one of the few things we could do to truly bring honor to T’neil and the legacy of her life.
T’neil was not a registered organ donor and I don’t know that she had ever considered organ donation. But I did know her to be a giver. She had a beautiful heart and smile to match which she shared with all she came in contact with. T’neil loved her family and she loved her friends but she also had a love for those in need. Knowing this about my daughter allowed us to make the decision to donate her organs without hesitation or regret. T’neil had now gone to a place where she no longer needed her organs and it would have been a real shame to just let her perfectly healthy heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, corneas, tissue and bone just go to waste when we knew that somewhere, someone was waiting on a second chance at life through organ transplantation.
Because of our decision to donate, a 15 year old girl suffering from cystic fibrosis received two healthy lungs. A 29 year old woman who had just begun to travel the road of life received a heart. Two men, two fathers, two husbands each received a kidney and a young man received a tendon that enabled him to play sports again. Our decision has connected us with new friends who have become permanent extensions to our family. Our hearts are comforted to know that a part of our daughter lives on in others.
Finally, I know that with our decision to donate came the responsibility to educate others about the need for organ donation, especially within minority populations. Minorities comprise over half of the list of those awaiting a transplant and often wait twice as long to receive a transplant due to a lack of minority donors.
T’neil was determined to make her mark and change the world and through the giving of her organs she was able to do just that!
(Story shared by Denisha M. Henry – T’neil’s mother)