On Feb. 18, 2005, my six-year-old daughter, Maya, was killed in a car crash. Her ten-year-old brother Casey was badly injured and evacuated by helicopter to Tampa, where they were better able to treat his injuries.
At the hospital, I was led to an examination room in which the lights had been lowered. I tried, instinctively, to crawl up on the gurney and cuddle Maya but was stopped by a doctor who said, "You must be with your son. She is dead. He is alive. Go."
At the hospital the next morning, before I told my son about his little sister, I received a phone call from an organization called LifeLink of Florida. They asked that I consider donating Maya's eyes and heart valves.
I had never dreamed of donating my little girl's organs or tissue. Prior to that day, I don't think I could have even coped well with her banging her head on playground equipment. Now they wanted to take her beautiful blue eyes — the only part of her that seemed unharmed in the car crash. Little Maya's generous gift was given without her knowledge or permission. But I am thoroughly convinced, nine months later, that Maya would have been proud to know that she was helping other children.
One child is now blessed with sight because of Maya. Meanwhile, two other children have received her heart valves.
Maya was never selfish; never in life and not in death. I am confident that Maya would want you to know that even when the unthinkable happens, it is very important to have decided — hopefully, in advance — that, before you go to be with God, what remains of you on earth should go to be with other living people who desperately need what you no longer need — your body.
Please notify your congregation that there is a great need for donors to be matched with grateful donation recipients.
For more information on organ and tissue donation, please call the United Network for Organ Sharing at 804-782-4800.
I am also willing to speak to you about your church's participation in organ donation. Call me at 352-683-4870.
The Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter is pastor of Spring Hill UCC in Florida.
In the United States, there are 90,000 persons awaiting transplants, but less than 15,000 donors.
Hepatitis C, cancer, diabetes — or even being advanced in age — do not necessarily mean that you cannot be an organ or tissue donor.
African-Americans top the lists of those awaiting kidney, heart, liver, lung and pancreas transplants.