It was March of 2010, on our first day of Spring Break in Colorado when my husband, Todd and I were faced with something we never thought we’d ever face in our lifetime…our oldest daughter Taylor had been in a skiing accident and the doctors told us there was no hope of her surviving.
Photo: The Family - Spring Break in Colorado
Sitting in shock in the hospital that day, we were asked a question that we’d never thought to prepare for, “Your daughter is a beautiful candidate for organ donation, would you consider it?”
Without a Doubt
I remember distinctly looking at my husband as he stood by Taylor’s bedside. Immediately we said yes. Taylor was such a giving child that we knew it was the decision she would have chosen for herself, had she been asked.
Like most families, we didn't sit around the dinner table talking about organ donation. In fact, I’m not sure if Todd and I had ever talked about it before that point. We had no interest in talking about our own mortality, much less the mortality of our children.
That would never happen to us... So we thought.
Looking back at that horrible day, Todd and I have said so many times that it was a privilege to have said yes to that question. Taylor saved and improved the lives of five people. But it wasn’t just the recipients that were affected, it was their families and friends who were also touched by Taylor’s gift of life.
To this day, the ripple effect still astounds us.
When we returned home from Colorado and slowly tried to pick up the pieces of our lives without our oldest child, Todd started doing some research about organ donation. In our digging, we found out that our great state of Texas had only 2% of registered organ donors. We kept asking why that was, but most importantly how that could be. It immediately sparked a passion and purpose in our hearts - something that to this day we still have no words for other than, we felt like it was God’s calling for us. We had an overwhelming sense of purpose that we knew, somehow, we could make a difference in this world and honor our precious daughter at the same time.
Todd’s grandfather told him while he was growing up; “It’s not what happens to you that matters, but how you react to it that does”. Now, don’t read this wrong, of course it mattered to us (and crushed our hearts) to lose our daughter; however, we had a choice. We could either cave up in the grief... or try to find the good. We knew our reaction was going to be important.
Taylor’s Gift Foundation was that reaction. It wasn’t by any means easy, but we made the decision to focus on the good that came out of our tragedy - focusing more on God’s purpose for us and less on the pain of our loss.
A New Beginning
We founded Taylor’s Gift in April 2010 and soon after we met Taylor’s heart recipient, Patricia. The story of us meeting Patricia originally aired on Good Morning America (watch the video), and has since shown up in hundreds of places across the internet, bringing awareness to the Foundation on a global scale. We have been working tirelessly (all by the Grace of God) to increase organ donation registrations across the country and we are proud to say that - with the help of Taylor's Gift and the help of our peers - our great state of Texas has seen an increase in organ donor registrations by over 630% - with over 5,000,000 new registered organ donors in the Lone Star State.
Photo: Meeting Patricia for the first time.
It didn't take long to notice that donor registrations weren't the only needs at hand. We recognized that the needs of families who had been touched by organ donation were completely underserved. There were many families who had lost a loved one who gave the gift of life and were suddenly in a position of overwhelming grief and financial stress. For some, the unexpected financial costs from a funeral or losing a bread-winner was completely devastating.
Currently we help those families through our Legacy Gift program. These financial grants have been a life-line for many families and Taylor’s Gift is so honored to help fill this need. I really wish I had words to express what it means to us to give back to families who have given it all... the gift of life.
We understand their pain.
We want to give them some hope.
It’s a privilege to help. Just like that day when we were asked if we would donate her organs, looking back on it now, it was a privilege to do so .
How Will You Outlive Yourself?