PO BOX 40926, Providence, RI 02940 info@riodac.org 401.253.0011

Jessica Donor Sister of Tim P.

When I was 9, my brother Tim (nicknamed Timbo) was born. At that point in my life, I had to learn to share the spotlight, which I had commanded, with a new baby. He had the biggest blue eyes and sweetest smile. He was the most wonderful little baby boy. As he grew into a young man, he continued to be the most wonderful young man.

As he grew, so did his heart. The compassion he had for those around him was unwavering, and the gentle spirit he embodied touched everyone he knew. I so desired to be like my brother. Almost 10 years his elder, I learned to be calm and thoughtful from him. His simple acceptance of everyone was incredible. No matter if he was your best friend or a person he saw in the hallways at school, or a stranger in the supermarket, he often would find a way to make you smile or laugh. He touched so many lives. I knew that this young man would shape my life in a way that I had never imagined.

At 16, my brother had a conversation with my mother, just weeks before he passed, he made it clear to her that he wanted to be an organ donor. That conversation, as simple as it may have been, easily supported our decision to donate his organs during a time of confusion, anguish and sadness. On March 13, 2007, my 16 year old brother was in a fluke skateboarding accident which took his life. As I look back on the moments in the hospital and the weeks after my brother died, I only remember snap-shots or pictures of each moment. Some pictures are real hard to look at. However, the most important pictures are the ones that inspire me and make me proud. There is a picture of a kind woman supporting my family yet I know she is struggling to ask our family about organ donation. Fighting back tears, she asks our family, never disrespecting our situation or my brother. The next picture is of my mother talking on the phone to the physician who organized my brother’s donation. He is telling her about where each organ went. I still have the piece of scrap paper with the information: 1 kidney – 35 yr old man with children, 1 kidney – 50 yr old woman, 1 liver split to a 40 yr old woman and young child, 1 heart to a 15 yr old girl, 2 lungs to a 37 yr old man with Cystic Fibrosis. I often think of the new lives each of these recipients has now tasted. Did the 15 year old girl who received his heart go to her prom all these years later? Did the 50 year old woman live to see children get married? Did the man with children get to play outside with them now that he is no longer a slave to dialysis? The last picture is one where my brother’s lung recipient does a reading at my wedding in August 2010. The details of how our paths crossed could certainly qualify for an Oprah show. We met Bobby at the Transplant Olympics a year after his double lung transplant. He was waiting in his hotel lobby for some teammates.

In the meantime, my father had taken a shuttle to the wrong hotel and was waiting in the same lobby as Bobby. Bobby went up to my father and commented on his Red Sox hat, saying that he had watched many Sox games in his hospital bed as he waited for his transplant. The story unfolds to my father and Bobby talking about why each of them was at the Transplant Olympics and what the timeframe was when Bobby had his transplant. Suddenly my father and Bobby realized that my brother was likely his organ donor. It was confirmed to be true. As I type this story, I still cannot believe it! The most wonderful baby boy that grew into the most wonderful young man, so wonderfully eased our hearts as we learned more about Bobby. Meeting the man who had gotten another chance in life because of my brother’s decision to donate his organs is a feeling I still haven’t found the right words for. Bobby’s spirit almost mirrors that of my brother’s. He’s so gentle and kind. All I can do is praise God for these moments.

Almost 6 years later, as I sit here putting these words together, I realize I Am Hope. My story has redefined who I am as a person and how I want to live. My brother lived so simply and truly made those around him better for knowing him. In spite of tragedy, I Am Hope. I am proof that life’s most challenging times bring about the most incredible times. I recently had a baby, who is named after his Uncle Timbo. I am sure it’s no coincidence that he also has big blues eyes and the sweetest smile. I pray my son will emblem his life in a way that honors his uncle. I want to thank Donate Life and RIODAC for giving me an opportunity to share my brother’s story so that he can inspire other families to see the hope in situations that seem to be hopeless. Please, please, please talk to your loved ones about organ donation.

– Jessica

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