On July 19th of this year, Charles Coughlin lost his son 31-year-old son, Jason in motorcycle accident. Just over one month later, he received a touching letter letting him know his decision to donate Jason's vital organs had saved the lives of four total strangers.

Jason, a Mater Dei graduate, was riding his motorcycle in Evansville when a car suddenly turned in front of him causing the accident. According to an update Charles posted on his Facebook page July 18th, Jason was taken by Life Flight to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee to be treated for severe head and spine injuries. Charles noted the accident had also caused Jason to lose his left leg.

Unfortunately for Charles and his family, the trauma Jason sustained in the accident was too much to overcome as he passed away as a result of his injuries the following day.

As the days and weeks passed, Charles grieved as any parent would. He shared memories and photos of motorcycle trips he and Jason had taken all while struggling to come to grips with the fact the two would never ride through the countryside together again.

Then on August 25th, Charles shared a letter he received from Shawnah Shingleton, a Family Care Coordinator with Tennessee Donor Services, who informed him that a part of Jason continued to live on through four people Charles had never met, thanks to his decision to donate his son's organs.

The letter reads:

Dear Charles and Stacie,

 

It has been several weeks since we last spoke and I hope this letter finds you in good health and recovering spirits. Words may offer little consolation at a time like this; however, I am writing you to again offer my sincerest sympathy on the loss of your son. I am humbled that I was able to speak with you during some of your most [illegible] hope that the decision for Jason to be an organ donor has brought you peace in some way. It was extremely generous of you to think of someone else's needs in such a time of grief. You have honored his life and allowed him to save others.

 

Your son was able to save the life of a 44-year-old lady through the gift of his right kidney. She is the single mom of three children. She has been discharged from the hospital and is doing very well. She is thankful for an improved life, all because of your family.

 

Jason gave life to a 40-year-old lady through the gift of his left kidney. She has been married for 6 years and is the mom of one child. Prior to becoming so ill, she was an EMT and substitute teacher. She is incredibly thankful to your family for this gift.

 

Your son's liver was placed with a 62-year-old young lady. She is divorced and has two children. She was a factory worker before becoming disabled. She had immediate and good function of her new liver. She enjoys walking her dog in her spare time. Her family feels so blessed by your thoughtfulness.

 

Jason's heart restored life to 34-year-old lady. She is married and has one child. She previously worked for the county court house and is hoping to go back to work when she is well. She enjoys spending time with her son and family. She is very active with their church youth groups. Their family is overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of your family.

 

I sincerely hope that this letter brings you both comfort and joy in your time of grief to know that your son's "gifts of life" have saved others. He is a hero in the eyes of these families and ours here at Tennessee Donor Services. It was only through the miraculous gifts of life from your caring family that other lives have been saved. You are now connected to these families in a way they will never forget. It was truly my pleasure to work with you. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. And again, on behalf of Tennessee Donor Services, the families listed above, and those still waiting for a life-saving transplant, I say thank you!

 

With warmest regards,

 

Shawnah Shingleton

Family Care Coordinator

Tennessee Donor Services

I contacted Charles through Facebook after seeing a few friends share the above letter to see if he would allow me to share Jason's powerful story. He agreed, adding he hopes this story will save the lives of others through organ donation.

According to the Donate Life Indiana website, in the state of Indiana alone, "over 1,400 Hoosiers are waiting for a life saving organ or tissue transplant."

Becoming an organ donor is easy. Simply agree to do so next time you're getting or renewing your driver's licence at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) like I did many years ago. Or, if you have no need for a trip to the DMV in the near future, you can sign up online through the Donate Life Indiana website.

I'd like to thank Charles for allowing me to share Jason's story, and send my sincerest condolences to him and his wife, Stacie, in this difficult time. As the father of two young children myself, I can't imagine the pain they are going through. Thank you again.