"My younger brother and only sibling, Trey, was in a serious car accident and after several days in the hospital he died from his injuries. It was Thanksgiving Day 2007.

Trey and Laura

I believe the timing of his death was significant. It forced us to approach even our darkest day with a spirit of gratitude. Trey and I both worked for U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, and you can’t be around Sen. Alexander for very long without hearing him quote his friend Alex Haley who said, “Find the good and praise it.”For me, part of “the good” came when we learned that Trey would die the same way he lived, by loving and giving. Trey tried to live his life according to our Lord’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, and as a natural extension of his generous spirit he had chosen to be an organ and tissue donor.

Because of his loving choice five people were given new life: two single mothers in their 40s, a 56-year-old mother of two who had been married for 28 years, a 36-year-old gentleman who enjoyed fishing (one of Trey’s favorite pastimes), and a 62-year-old physician and father of four who had been on the transplant list for two years.

Trey renewed his driver’s license on May 14, 2007, and marked “yes” to organ and tissue donation. His girlfriend also remembers Trey saying, “I’ll be with the Big Guy. Give it all,” indicating his wish to donate everything.

Many people find talk of organ donation uncomfortable and perhaps morbid, and others believe organ donation is a good thing but put off doing something about it for another day. A survey conducted by the National Coalition on Donation found that 91 percent of respondents support donation, and yet 29 percent have taken no action to indicate their wishes via their driver’s license, living will, or by telling their family. That was me. I’m embarrassed to say I signed my driver’s license the day Trey died. I’m thankful that my responsible brother was not part of that 29 percent like I was.

Because of his decision to be an organ donor, Trey’s story became a resurrection story. Out of death and despair came new life, and our Thanksgiving became an Easter. Through our tears we rejoiced knowing five families had gotten a call on Thanksgiving Day with news that their loved one would be receiving a life-giving organ.

But the story does not end there. On my mother’s birthday last March, 250 miles from the site of Trey’s hospitalization, she and my stepfather had the opportunity to meet the 62-year-old physician and keeper of one of Trey’s kidneys. The gift – the good – had come full circle."

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