Wall Of Life - Thomas - Fifty Lives

Tissue Donor

Tom was born on Christmas day and he was truly a gift. Tom grew up as normal boys do. When Tom turned 18, he was drafted into the army. He was his mother's only child and certainly could have gotten a pardon. But Tom being a true patriot served his country during the Vietnam war. Half way through his tour of duty he got that horrible call. At age 19 his father had died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. He was honorably discharged due to hardship.

He helped his mother get things together. Tom worked hard for 44 years at a paper mill. He hardly missed work and later became a supervisor. Tom had been married a couple of times when I met him. He had been a bachelor for ten years. When we met we knew it was going to be a serious relationship. We married in 1990 and were blessed with a son in 1991. We were married 21 years. Tom was a friendly outgoing person. He never saw a stranger.

He missed his father terribly. His mother passed away the year after our son was born. Tom was so proud of his son. We named him after his father, and Tom would say daily I wish my dad could have seen Willie; he would have spoiled him rotten. Well he didn't need anyone else to spoil him rotten because he did a good job. Tom got to see his son graduate high school and start college. He was so impressed at how our son had turned out and saying he was proud of him is not near the feelings he felt for him.

Tom loved boating on Lake Erie; he loved to fish and socialize with his friends. We did everything together and were very happy and close.

The day Tom passed away, he was scheduled for a colonoscopy. We went to the hospital early that morning he had the procedure. Everything was fine (so we thought) we came home and he seemed fine. Later that evening, he began to sweat and feel sick. I contacted the doctor who told me it sounded like low blood sugar and dehydration. He told me what to do and said call me back if he doesn't get better. Tom thought he was feeling better so he went to lie down. I checked on him every 15 minutes and he seemed fine. His son, Willie, now 19 years old, had come home from work and was going to take a shower. I asked Willie to check on his Dad before he got in the shower. History had repeated itself. Tom had passed away in his sleep within 15 minutes and Willie had found him.

Tom never had blood pressure problems, wasn't overweight, not diabetic, nor did he have high cholesterol. There was no indication Tom had a heart problem. We later found out it was what people refer to as the Widow Maker.

Tom had always told me he wanted to be cremated so we honored his wishes. At the hospital, I was approached by a nurse asking if I had thought about donating his corneas. That's not something I had thought about or ever discussed with Tom, but after thinking about it and talking to her; it was my opinion that's what he would have wanted. Tom became a cornea and tissue donor. We donated not only his corneas, but anything useful to save another's life.

This was a horrible time. I blamed myself, I blamed the doctors, I couldn't understand why. I feel I made the right decision not only for Tom but for me and my son. Just knowing Tom lives on for so many other people gave us all a little peace.

Donna - Thomas' wife