California Mother Shares Story of Organ DonationJan 26, 2022
In 2016, organ donation was not something Danielle Coleman ever thought much about. It wasn’t until faced with the tragic circumstances of her son Lewis’s death that organ donation touched her life. On the evening of October 7, 2016, Danielle received a devastating call. Her son Lewis was involved in a critical car accident. It was a hit and run and he was just 21 years old.
In life, Lewis was known for his gentle heart and kind personality. He loved his pick-up truck and was thrilled when others would call for help with their cars. Lewis was always happy to go out of his way to help others.
Faced with heart-breaking circumstances, Danielle and her family were asked about the possibility of organ donation. Lewis was not a registered donor so Danielle and her family were given the opportunity to make this decision for him. It was Garrett and Savannah, Lewis’s siblings, who convinced their mother that this is what Lewis would have chosen for himself.
“We lose potential donors not because the families aren’t giving, but because they are grieving,” says donor mother Danielle. After making the difficult decision, she remembers the two days she got to curl up with her son in his hospital bed. In those moments, Danielle recalls the staff at Doctors Medical Center and the care they provided to her family and her son.
“During our time at Doctors Medical Center, the staff talked to him by name, whenever they adjusted lines or cared for him. They listened to all of my stories about him and it amazes me that even though they see tons of patients every year, the staff can still take the time to be so present,” Danielle recalls. “To walk away without your baby and still have so much reverence for the staff and what they do – it just means so much.”
Lewis’s heart never stopped beating. He was able to donate his heart, pancreas, liver and kidneys, saving four lives. Danielle says she owes so much to her older children Garrett and Savannah for grounding her in that moment. Unfortunately, a year and a half later, Danielle’s son Garrett would also suffer a critical accident and she would have to revisit the topic of donation again.
“It’s important to have the hard conversation now, so loved ones don’t have to do it. To have any amount of peace is welcome when you’re going through something like this,” says the donor mother of two. “I didn’t know how rare and special organ donation was. Less than 1% of people can donate and it’s an honor to share his story.”
Danielle is so proud of her son’s heroism. “It’s as if there is a burning building with people inside. Lewis got to save four lives. Sometimes, you don’t get to go back four times,” she proudly states. Her message to other families is to have the conversation now and register yourselves as organ donors. She wants others to know that while having the tough conversation can be uncomfortable or difficult, it can bring peace in an unexpected moment of heartache.We encourage you to visit DonorNetworkWest.org or your local DMV to register as an organ donor today.