Hurley, Donor Families Celebrate New Memorial Wall
Posted: January 18, 2013 (photo: Doug Pike)
Chase Coleman’s picture sits second to the left, joined by the photos of seven other individuals. His youthful grin rests just beneath the phrase, “It’s through their giving that life lives on.”
It was in the spring of 2003 when 21-year old Chase was involved in a car accident that claimed his life. On Friday, January 18, during the unveiling of a new memorial wall at Hurley Medical Center, his older brother Lon spoke to a small crowd telling how Chase continues to make an impact through organ donation.
After tearfully recounting the accident, death and decision to move forward with donating his brother’s organs, Lon shared the story of the phone call he received the morning of Chase’s surgery. It came from the Hurley nurse that originally greeted Lon when he arrived in the emergency room the day of his brother’s accident.
“She told me my brother’s surgery went well, and that he had saved the lives of seven people that morning,” said Lon during the emotional speech. “She also said, ‘Make sure to tell your mom I stayed with (Chase) all night long; I wrapped him and bathed him, and he was never alone.’”
“That happened to be a Sunday morning, on Mother’s Day, and I don’t think my mom has ever received a better gift than to know her youngest son was never alone that day.”
Lon said the family has met four of his brother’s organ recipients, and that over 100 people have benefited from his tissues, bones and muscles.
“If (my family) didn’t have on some nights an answer to the question ‘Why him?’, ‘Why our family?, ‘Why our 21-year old kid?,’ I don’t think we could have got through it,” he said.
The event celebrated the first organ donor memorial in the region, funded by The Gift of Life Foundation, a separate organization that supports Gift of Life’s mission, reflecting the collaboration between Hurley Medical Center, Gift of Life and all of donation partners.
According to Anne Kowalczyk, Chief Administrative Officer at Gift of Life Michigan and Executive Director of the Gift of Life Foundation, over 3,100 people are waiting in Michigan for “the most important phone call of their lives,” but for many, the phone won’t ring. She added the wall serves as a reminder that every opportunity to raise awareness is critical, she said.
“The fact this wall stands here is a constant reminder of not just the gifts, but the continuing need will surely make a difference,” she said, stating “the wall makes Hurley Medical Center a leader. “
Added Hurley President and Chief Executive Officer Melany Gavulic, “We can’t forget the donors and donor families. These are the people with tremendous forethought and through times of tremendous personal grief make that decision to give the ultimate gift of life.”