In late July 2016, I received a call asking me if I would be willing to serve on the inaugural Donor Family Council for Indiana Donor Network.
I was able to choke out a very weak, “Yes, I am honored to be asked.”
My daughter, Kelsey, died as a result of an auto accident in August of 2004. Kelsey had made the decision to be an organ donor. It was just weeks before the 12th anniversary of Kelsey’s death and organ donation.
Being a member of the Donor Family Council has given me an opportunity to offer direct and open feedback about the aftercare program to the staff of Indiana Donor Network. Our experience as a family was very positive. This council gives me a venue to share what worked best, what seemed irrelevant at the time and what I would like to see added to the aftercare program. I am an integral part of a dynamic group that shares from their experience and from their hearts. The purpose of our group is to ensure that future donor families receive the best possible support.
In addition, I know that I am honoring Kelsey’s life and legacy by continuing to be active in promoting and advocating the mission of Indiana Donor Network. One of the biggest fears my wife, Kathy, and I have faced is the fear that Kelsey will not be remembered. I take her with me in my heart when I attend the quarterly meetings in Indianapolis. I hold her memory with love as I share my experience with other donor family members.
Speaking of the other members of the Donor Family Council, I have added to my network of support in this journey of memory and healing. As I listen to their stories and offer my love and empathy, I am able to return the favor to my fellow members of “the club none of us wanted to join.” Making it extra meaningful is the fact that one of my other daughters, McKenna, sits next to me on the council, shares deeply from her heart, and has taken the initiative to help begin a sibling support program for those younger children who lose their brother or sister.
As I said on that first hot July afternoon, “I am honored” to not just be asked to be a member of the Donor Family Council. I am humbled by the impact it is having on those whose loved ones have given the gift of life.
Written by Mark Mikel
- Being a Donor Sibling – McKenna Mikel
- Woman receives pancreas transplant, life changes