Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Donate Life---A Widow's Story

April is Donate Life month and we're swapping stories about this amazing gift. I'd love to hear from you! Many thanks go this week to Susan, who's been following this blog almost a year now. Please email me at if you'd ever be willing to share your story with us. Just the other day a widow told me that these stories have been one of the things that have helped her the most! I think you'll find Susan's story a great help too. ferree

Susan & Donnie
I would like to share our families Organ Donor experience. My sweet 53-year-old husband and I slid on black ice Dec 15, 2010. Our SUV hit a tree and Donnie sustained multiple injuries, including blunt-force trauma to the brain. As Christians, we know that Gods healing ability is far greater than anything doctors and medicine can do. However, on the third day in the trauma unit, with no improvement, the prognosis from the doctors at Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN) sank into my brain.

Donnie and I had both signed organ donor cards but the final decision is left up to the surviving spouse. The question was posed to me as I sat with family around a large table in a conference room at the hospital. I knew in my heart what Donnie would say. Still, I looked at his adult son and daughter, his mom, brother, sister. They were all nodding in agreement as tears mingled with their smiles. Paperwork followed, an assessment of his condition, and a meeting with the Organ Donor Chaplain.

The chaplain asked me to tell him about Donnie. Donnie was a big man with a big heart for Christ; he had grown up in the German Baptist Church, similar to Mennonites. Ken, the chaplain, was familiar with this group. He had served in an area of Ohio less than 50 miles from where Donnie's parents lived. He knew that foot washing was a part of their church practice so he asked if I would like to have him arrange for that service. Wow! What are the chances of meeting a chaplain so familiar with this little known church and their meaningful practice? Do we underestimate what God can do?

On Sunday morning, Dec 19, 2010, in room 621 at Vanderbilt Hospital, more than 25 precious people gathered. Donnie's brother read verses from the Bible. Chaplain Ken had a basin and towels. As many as wanted to participate washed Donnie's feet with love, and then I dried them.

For us, organ donorship was an act of giving and of love, just like Donnie's life had been. Besides, he would have said, 'What do we need those old body parts for in heaven? God promises us a new body!' Donnie's organs gave new life to men struggling with health problems and perhaps skin grafts to children who were burned in a Christmas tree house fire the next day. It signified something good coming from something tragic. I know God was saying 'well done.'


  1. I am bawling...God never ceases to amaze me with His intimate knowledge of us and His ability to arrange something so amazing and profoundly beautiful. Yes, Chaplain Ken was hand-picked by God to be there, and what he did for your family was priceless. What an amazing blessing. Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. Ohhhh!!!! That is just so very, very precious. I am so very sorry for you loss. I would like to know how this widow is doing, please.

  3. This widow is healing because our God knows how to heal our minds, spirits , hearts and bodies. Identifying with other widows on this blog and other ones at church has strengthened me. Family and friends have encouraged but let me move at my own pace. Thank God, I had a husband that loved The Lord and is present with Him. This was Donnie's story but thank you for letting me share it!

  4. Hi Susan, Thank you for letting us know how you're doing, it's an encouragement to everyone. As you can tell, your story has touched Kelly and Candy as much as it did me. And we're just a tiny representation of all the readers out there. Donnie's legacy lives on in his gift of life donations and in the Lord's work in your life too. Blessings to you and your family.

  5. Donnie was only in our lives a short time but made a big difference. We miss him --- The Bolins!


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