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In memory of Michael Blagojevic, 1974 - 2000
This is a picture of Debbie's son, Michael, and his sweet angel of a daughter, Gabrielle.  This picture was taken at his brother, Andrew's, wedding  exactly one year before Mike's passing.
Michael's Story
By Debbie Blagojevic
Everyone needs to have an idea about how most Donor Families may feel! Personally, we are so proud of the decision we made. We were fortunate enough to know as well that it was our son's wish if anything ever happened to him, who would have ever guessed that it was a very short time coming that his wish would come true! Seems like a sad wish, but if you knew our son, I honestly believe with every breath I take, he knew unconsciously that his time was coming. The Lord had other plans for him and his family!

He was a very strong, healthy and, most of all, a loving person. However, Michael was a troubled soul on this earth who always seemed to be in the wrong place at the
wrong time and, unfortunately, Michael had a serious drinking problem that he so desperately tried to correct. I sometimes feel responsible for this because both of my parents were alcoholics. We tried so desperately of prepare our sons for this addiction that they may have inherited. Michael was so loving, he hated being drunk but couldn't help himself. He would black out and he even had loss of memory at times.

In the end it was his addiction to alcohol that killed him when he had a terrible fall in his home. When his friend found him he was already dead. Paramedics arrived within minutes and were able to revive him, but Michael never did gain consciousness.

The police were at our door at 5:00 a.m. that morning to take us to the hospital. Never in a million years had I thought this would ever happen to us! The doctors at the Emergency Department informed us that Michael was probably brain dead and asked us about Organ Donation.

At this point I'd like to share with you our story that I am proud to say, I shared with others at a ceremony for Organ Donor Awareness Week in Canada ...

"Our son, Mike, died yesterday. At least, that is how I feel in my heart. He had just turned 26 years old, with a beautiful little girl. Every time the phone rings, for a split second my thoughts bring us back to the phone call telling us to answer our front door, "It's the police." They told us our son had a tragic accident in his home and he is critical condition at the hospital. When we arrived, the doctor told us that Mike had died and the paramedics revived him, but he is probably brain dead. The doctor asked us if we would consider Organ Donation and my husband and I both said, "Yes" at the same time. It's probably the first time we agreed about a situation involving our two sons, without having to discuss it first, but of course we had some questions. Shortly after, Mike was transferred to ICU, and I must say how awesome they took care or my baby! The specialist then informed us that Mike had severe brain damage. He was not brain dead, but was not likely to survive. In addition, because of all the drugs and shock process of reviving him, we were told that Mike might not be able to donate his organs. We were very disappointed because we knew that Mike would have wanted to be an Organ Donor. As our sons were growing up, I could not stress the word communication enough! Fortunately Mike never had a problem talking, in fact, it seems he never stopped! I remember Mike phoning us one day to tell us to look in the newspaper. One of his friends that he grew up with playing hockey had donated bone marrow to a young lady in Alberta, who would have died from a rare form of leukemia. He had participated at the University of Toronto for blood testing and he was thrilled to know he was responsible for "Giving The Gift of Life." Isn't that "So Cool" Mom, Mike said! Also the year before Mikes' passing he fractured his wrist, between doctor visits he came to find out that our family doctor's daughter needed a kidney transplant and his wife was her donor. I remember the conversation we had that night at our dinner table so clearly. Mike had told us how strongly he felt about donating his organs, he said, "what good are they in the ground?"

As time ticked away at the hospital we prayed for our "Miracle", especially because Andrew's first wedding anniversary was the next day. Please God, Don't Let Our Son Die! Two days went by and although Michael was hooked up to every machine possible, his brain activity continued to get worse and it was only a matter of time. The next thing we knew more testing was being done and the Hospital Chaplain was by our side when the doctor told us how sorry he was that Michael was, in fact, brain dead.

Michael was now gone, but because he lived for those two and a half days, they were able to replenish and revitalize his organs, which meant Mike's wish, would come true! He could be an Organ Donor!
At that point we met with Corinne, a coordinator from the M.O.R.E. Program. We did a medical history and shortly after we were informed a liver recipient match would be waiting at another hospital. The next morning we received a phone call letting us know Mike had given "The Gift of Life" to three people and we later we found out two people had been blessed with vision because of Mike's gift. My grandfather was blind so that made me especially happy!

Within a few months we came to find out that 32 people in total had been blessed with Mike's organs or tissues.

A few weeks after I even found myself visiting the ambulance division that would have been called the night of Mike's accident. I just had to do my share of communication! I informed the paramedics there that because of their gallant efforts, our son lived for two and a half days; we were able to try to face the inevitable. All of Mike's friends, family and his little girl were able to say their good-byes and to see him so peaceful. And because of them, Mike was able to be an Organ Donor!
Michael Blagojevic was honoured during George Marcello's June 20, 2002, walk for Organ Donor Awareness in Oakville, Ontario.  Click here to view the full sized poster
About Debbie Blagojevic ...

Debbie has been a volunteer with Step By Step since March of 2002. She organized the Step By Step activities in Oakville for Michael's Day and has since become a valued speaker on Organ and Tissue Donation during Step By Step Events in the surrounding communities. Debbie and her family offered their home to me when I attended the Step By Step Last Day Events (of the 769 Day Walk) in Toronto and we have been close friends ever since.

Love to all. Keep up the Great Work! Elaine Barry
Step by Step and Kristopher's Wish give our thanks to Debbie Blagojevic for giving us permission to share Michael's story with you. Sharing their story helps us to increase awareness of organ and tissue donation, which is the objective of Step by Step and Kristopher's Wish.