By Joe Reavis
The sudden death of her father in 2014 turned into a positive, life-changing event for Dana Ashley of Wylie through the organ donor program of Southwest Transplant Alliance.
Her father, Jim Ashley, had expressed interest in donating his organs if he were to die and his wish helped give life to a number of people needing transplants.
“My father was a very giving person,” the Wylie woman said. “His last gift to give was life.”
Jim, 54, owned a moving company in Dallas and in July 2014 he was loading a truck when he collapsed, fell out of the truck and hit his head. Dana reported that her father was diagnosed with having suffered head trauma, but an autopsy later revealed that he suffered a massive stroke.
Dana and her husband, Clynt, were in Houston at the time of the accident and immediately rushed home to the hospital, as did her brother, Justin. They learned on arrival that their father was not responsive and no brain activity could be detected. At that point, the siblings made the decision to approve donation of organs.
“My dad was always very open with my brother and I,” Dana said. “We knew everything he wanted, and organ donation was one of those things.”
SWT stepped in to facilitate the process of testing the organs, contacting donor lists and counseling family members. Jim was on life support for a week to keep the organs functioning until surgery could be performed to harvest the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.
“Once they found matches for everything, they let us know when the surgery would take place,” Dana recalled. “We all said our goodbyes.”
“In a day full of fog, that was the only thing that kept us going, to know that he would live on,” she added.
Since her father’s death and donation of his organs, the Wylie woman has become an active advocate for STA, often helping staff information booths at public events, such as concerts at GEXA Center in Dallas, and giving talks about organ donation. She also visited with family members who have met recipients of their loved ones’ organs and decided to reach out to the man who received her father’s heart.
The transplant organization facilitates the process of connecting a donor family member with a recipient, after determining whether a recipient is receptive to a meeting. The process takes some time, but Dana reported that the recipient of her father’s heart agreed to meeting her and they got together last summer after visiting on the telephone several times.
Ironically, Dana pointed out, the recipient, a man in his 70s, has the same first name as her father and lives in the same Garland neighborhood in which she and her brother were reared. Dana and Justin went to visit and were treated to brownies and iced tea provided by the recipient’s wife. They presented him with a gift of an eagle statuette because their father liked eagles.
“We were there for hours. The conversation just kept going,” Ashley said. “His personality is sort of like my dad’s.”
For full story see The Wylie News at http://www.etypeservices.com/Wylie%20NewsID245/default.aspx.