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!
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
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
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?"
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!
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
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!
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
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.|