Why will our family walk the Indiana Donor Network 5k? This is our story.
Thomas (Tommy) Jordan was born January 23, 1999. He was my firstborn who way too quickly grew into a wonderful, caring, loving, Christian young man. This kid LIVED to play baseball. He was so excited about playing baseball during his senior year of high school. Tommy started his senior year really not having a game plan for what he was going to do after graduation. For inspiration, he enrolled in the cadet program at the preschool in his school district. He would spend the first half of his school day at the preschool and then go to school for the rest of the day. Within the first couple of weeks, he decided that he wanted to work with preschool aged children after high school. We always teased him that it was because he and the preschoolers were at the same maturity level.
So, here’s what brought me to Indiana Donor Network and my reason for participating in the 5k. The 5k will be held in Indianapolis on October 13. This date also marks the second anniversary of Tommy’s accident and his death. A car accident on the way to the preschool took his life. Tommy made the decision to be a donor when he got his license at 16. Tommy was not a candidate for organ donation; however, his donation decision was honored through his gifts of tissue donation.
In the months to follow, we received so much support from Indiana Donor Network. We received information on grieving and dealing with all of the “firsts” we were going to have to face. The Aftercare Support team invited our family to several workshops and memorial craft events. These thoughtful gestures continued for a year, and they were such a blessing to us.
We received a letter from Indiana Donor Network sometime between Christmas and New Year of 2017. It was a letter that broke my heart all over again and made it soar with so much love and pride at the same time. It was a review of all the gifts that Tommy was able to give through his donation. He was able to give 59 bone grafts, 28 of which continue to be distributed to medical facilities throughout the country! At the time the letter was written, Tommy’s tissue had helped 27 patients ranging in ages from 18 to 71. In addition to that, 31 more tissue grafts were created to help other patients in need. Tommy was also able to donate healthy heart valves for transplantation. His aortic and pulmonary heart valves were sent to South Carolina. His saphenous veins were also healthy enough for transplantation.
Because of a decision made by a sixteen-year-old kid, over 100 people benefitted. The way I see it, my precious son will leave a part of himself and his legacy with these recipients. Through his gifts, he also inspired a dear friend of ours to make the decision to register to be a living kidney donor. Within two weeks of her registration, they found someone that was almost a perfect match! In May 2018, she travelled to Washington DC and selflessly donated one of her kidneys. It wasn’t given to the original recipient, but they were able to find an even better match for him! Her recipient ended up being a 13-year-old boy!
So, THIS is why I am putting a team together to participate in the Indiana Donor Network 5k. The idea that any number of people at this event could be a recipient of one of Tommy’s gifts is beyond belief! As much as I dread October 13, 2018, I can’t think of a better way to honor Tommy’s legacy and the legacies of all the other selfless people and families that made the decision to allow their loved ones to be organ and tissue donors – or to be a donor themselves.
I couldn’t be prouder of Tommy and so very thankful that God allowed me to be his mother for over 17 years. Losing him has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. There is a hole in the very depths of my soul that will never be filled. But, I know that Tommy is wrapped so tightly in the loving arms of Jesus and I so look forward to the day that I will see my boy again!
Authored by: Terri Martin Simpson, mother of Tommy Jordan