REMEMBERING BEN — Although the pain of losing her son has not faded, Kelly Edick, occupational therapist at Rome Memorial Hospital, finds comfort in the fact that Ben had elected to be an organ donor. Find out more about organ donation and register to be a donor on Thursday, April 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. in the hospital’s cafeteria. (Photo courtesy Rome Memorial Hospital)
Tragic loss for one family brings possibility of healing for others
Losing her son when he was just 19 years old, as a result of a tragic car accident, is a sorrow that Kelly Edick will never get over. But it was a simple act that Kelly’s son Ben did before his death that continues to bring his mom pride and helps her cope with his loss.
Ben made the decision to become an organ donor and made sure his wishes were printed on his driver’s license.
“I didn’t even know that he had done this,” Kelly said of Ben’s selfless act. “We had talked about organ donation and he knew that I felt very strongly that people should register as organ donors, but he never told me that he had actually done it.”
Kelly, an occupational therapist who works with lymphedema patients at Rome Memorial Hospital, said because of her work in a hospital setting she is greatly aware of the good that can be done through the use of transplanted organs and tissue.
She remembers talking with Ben about organ donation after reading a story about parents who donated their child’s organs after an untimely death. The way these parents saw, through their grief, a way for their beloved child to live on while saving the lives of others made a big impression on Kelly, and her son too.
“Ben was your typical teenager,” Kelly remembered. “I didn’t even know if he was paying attention to what I was saying that day, but apparently the message got through.”
On the tragic day when police officers came to the hospital to deliver the devastating news that her son had been killed, Kelly said she barely remembers anything else that anyone said.
Even though the officer explained to her that her son’s license indicated his wish to be an organ donor, it wasn’t until later that she fully understood what Ben had done.
Because Ben died at the scene of the accident, his major organs were not viable for use as transplants. What he was able to donate, however, would potentially be able to help up to 100 people. His corneas would help someone be able to see, his skin would help someone suffering from burns, disease or trauma, his bones would help someone regain the use of an arm or leg, and his oxygenated veins would help those whose damaged vessels impede their blood flow possibly saving them from amputation.
The professionals who are involved in recovering the organs and tissue, as well as the funeral directors who help families get through the grieving process, consistently show the utmost respect and sensitivity to the families recognizing any fears that they may have during these difficult times.
Kelly says that knowing that a part of her son’s body may have been used to save a person’s life or at the very least give them a much better quality of life is a great honor to her and gives her peace.
“He is a hero to me,” Kelly said. “He lives on in others, and even though I don’t know who received his donation, it helps me to look at people every day and wonder if they have a piece of Ben in them.”
Kelly said that she has been told that donated organs and tissue are usually used within the area where they were recovered, so the chance of seeing someone who has received Ben’s healing gift really isn’t that unbelievable.
There is only a 12 hour window of opportunity for the recovery of tissue, bone and veins after a person has died, so Kelly recommends that people who want to be an organ or tissue donor have their driver’s license reflect their wishes.
“If Ben’s license did not state his wishes, in the time it may have taken for us to make that decision afterwards it may have been too late,” Kelly explained. “People should talk about it with their family, make their decision and put it on their license or it may be an opportunity lost. Because Ben decided to do that, a lot of people were helped. I’m so proud of that.”
April is National Donate Life Month. Rome Memorial Hospital will host a special event on Thursday, April 12. Kelly will be part of a special opening ceremony at 11 a.m. in the hospital’s lobby, followed by the opportunity to learn more about organ donation and register to be a donor from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. in the hospital’s cafeteria.
“Although my beloved Benjamin will always remain in my heart as ‘Forever 19,’ April 17th will be his 21st birthday,” Kelly said. “I think that it is very fitting that his birthday is in organ donation awareness month.”