21 Years ago on April 17th 1996 Amy Sue Daisy Pray was rushed to Children’s hospital in critical condition. The next few days are sometimes just a blur in my mind, yet at other times their memory is as sharp as a knife. 21 years ago on April 21st after 4 days on life support my wife and I had to make the decision to turn off the machines that were keeping Amy here with us. It has proven to be the hardest decision of our lives.
When Amy died we also made a decision that was one of the easiest we ever made. That decision was to donate Amy’s organs so that some other parent might not have to go through what we were going through at the time. Although some people might think this was a hard thing to do it was made just a little easier by Amy herself.
When Amy was only 9 years old she had overheard a conversation April and I were having about organ donation and she came into the room and told us “when she died she wanted to do that so she could help somebody else”. She held fast to that belief into her teen years and spoke of it whenever the subject came up. Little did we know how soon it would come to be.
A few months after Amy’s death I received a phone call from a fellow at U of M’s organ donation team and he wanted to know how we were doing. He had a list of the recipients from Amy’s gift. He told me about the mother of three little kids who could walk to the park with them again because of Amy’s gift. He told me of several burn victims who were healing better because of skin grafts they had received as their gift. All together there were 47 people on Amy’s Gift of Life list, however one sticks in my mind more than most. There was a 3-year-old little boy who without the gift that came from Amy’s heart would not have lived to see Christmas that year.
Amy loved the outdoors and I often think of that little boy now a young man and wonder if he has shared a tree stand with his dad or his own son. I wonder if they go for rides together to look for deer. I wonder if by chance he was not from a hunting family if he had an unexplained desire to spend time outdoors stalking the woods with a bow and arrow, shotgun or rifle. I wonder if he’s killed his first deer yet? I know I’ll never know the answer to these things but if I know Amy I’ll bet he’s been in the woods with bow in hand.
In 2008 President Bush designated April as National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. Each year thousands of people die waiting for a transplant. I know all to well the pain their loved ones face. If you haven’t given any thought to organ donation yet, please do so now. Talk about it with your loved ones so you know their wishes and they know yours. Let others know about organ transplants and what they can mean to another family.
We never know what cards life will deal us and it may well be our own deck we stack when we make others aware of this great gift, The Gift of Life.
I love you Amy Sue. Dad misses Ya.
Early in the days of the Bowsite, a bunch of us Michiganders got together for a Bowsite Campout. Steve and April showed up and told us of a "a little archery shoot" that would fund a scholarship in Amy's memory. Many here found ways to contribute and that shoot was such a success, that one question was posed: "Are we going to do this again next year".
And we did...and Steve and April were put in the position that an ad hoc fundraiser needed to be formalized into a 501(c) organization with a mission...to serve life limited kids in a way that Make-A-Wish would not. I was honored to be asked to serve on that first BOD of Benefit4Kids. And that organization has grown and continues to honor the memory of Amy.
Mutt/Missy...you done good and continue to do so. From those humble starts, many great friendships can trace their roots, kids have had amazing experiences and the work continues. And have been supported by many here.
I'm glad you post this every year as it helps us remember that in spite of differences, we are a special community. We have done good...we can do better.