Wall Of Life - Carolyn - Fifty Lives

Tissue Recipient

I was supposed to have spinal surgery the afternoon of December 16, 2008 but the day my life turned upside down was on December 14th, when my youngest son, Tim had a single car accident. His seat belt broke on impact and he was thrown from his vehicle. He lay in a field from 10:30 pm until midnight before someone spotted the accident.

When the police and ambulance arrived, an officer asked him his name and if he was alone? He replied his name was Tim and that he was not alone. They looked around the scene of the accident but did not find anyone else. En route to the trauma center, the medics realized Tim had a serious head injury and quickly took him to the nearest hospital- not the trauma center.

His girlfriend and I had been trying to reach him during the night, but Tim did not answer his cell phone. When she called again, a police officer answered and told her Tim was in an accident and was taken to the trauma center, he also told her Tim was talking.

We went to the wrong hospital at first not realizing Tim was taken to the nearest hospital. When we finally arrived at the correct hospital; our family was taken to a private waiting room. The doctor came in and told the family he did everything in his power but he couldn't save Tim.
Shortly after Tim's death, the tissue bank called and my husband Richard talked to them about tissue donation. Tim became a tissue donor and donated skin, bones, tendons, veins and heart valves.

I postponed my surgery and later, I got to thinking, if I need to have a bone graft for my surgery why not see if I could use Tim's bones. I called Kristen Brown at Community Tissue Services-Mid-South and asked if they could provide Tim's bones for my surgery. Kristen asked me to talk to the neurosurgeon to see what was needed and she called the Community Tissue Services headquarters in Dayton to see if they would quickly process Tim's donation.
I had three vertebrae that were deteriorating and with the deterioration, my spinal cord was being flattened. If I didn't have surgery soon, or if I fell, I could be paralyzed because the cord was so fragile. Time was of the essence.

My surgeon told me what was needed to repair my spine; he also wanted to know how soon CTS-Mid-South could get the grafts. Kristen went above and beyond to expedite the processing of Tim's donated tissue and delivered the grafts to the surgeon to repair my spine.

Two weeks after my surgery, I went back to my neurosurgeon. He was amazed at how quickly I'd healed and told me the bone grafts had knitted together.
The nerve endings are still healing and when my neck hurts, I say "OK Tim, you can settle down now." It is a bittersweet story knowing Tim was a donor. If my son wasn't a donor, I would not have received his donated tissue. I think that is why I healed so fast; he helped his mother through his death
Going back to the beginning of my story, when Tim told the officer his name and he was not alone in the car - my sister and I talked about this a few weeks after the accident and decided that it was Tim's way of telling us he was not by himself when he died - he had angels watching over him.

Tim had two children, Andrew and Tiffany, and Richard and I are raising them. We truly miss Tim, but know that his tissue donation has helped many, including myself. A part of Tim lives on in me, and in others, forever.