One of the best things anyone can do is register as an organ donor. An estimated 114,000 people in the United States are waiting on the transplant list for a life-saving organ, and 20 people die every day from unavailability.
By becoming a donor, you can ensure that even when you die, you will continue to make a difference in the lives of others. That was the case of a mother, who tragically died too soon but saved several lives thanks to her latest gift.
Kathleen Thorson, of Medford, Oregon, was the mother of four children. The youngest was just born on December 29: she and her husband Jesse welcomed a boy named Teddy.
But just a few days after that miracle, tragedy struck. While she had always seemed healthy, she suddenly suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage and died days later. She was only 34 years old.
The shocking loss devastated her husband. The two had been dating since high school and married in 2006.
“We never spend a minute apart,” Jesse told Good Morning America. “We were 14 years old and we used every minute…no regrets about how we spent our time, just the amount of time we had.”
But as the family mourns, they have found a silver lining: Kathleen was an organ donor and 12 of her organs will be used in life-saving surgeries.
“As we learn more about that process … the receptors that [Kathleen’s] organs receive, it’s something that will continually encourage us,” Jesse said.
He says that his wife was a very loving and caring woman. It seems fitting that she continues to help people after she’s gone.
“I don’t know if she ever met someone that she couldn’t find a way to love and care for,” Jesse told GMA. “His heart of hers was open wide. Her heart and her kindness and her will to love.
And although all four of her children have lost her mother, they will always know that she died a hero.
“I’m glad my kids know her mom for doing that,” Jesse said. “My 7-year-old son told his first grade class that his mom has ‘helped people.'”
It is always heartbreaking to lose a loved one, especially at such a young age. But at least they can take comfort in the knowledge that he saved lives.