Hit and run victim's mother to meet son's organ recipients - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Hit and run victim's mother to meet son's organ recipients

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The family of 15-year-old Jacob Burrell, who was killed in a hit and run crash near Mineola back in October will host a benefit in his memory on Monday. They're trying to raise organ donor awareness. 

Burrell, who was a sophomore at Mineola High School, saved three lives by donating his organs, including his heart. About a month before he was killed, he became an organ donor while getting his driver's permit.

It's been a little more than three months since Jacob was killed less than a mile from his home. 
What keeps his mother, Jamie Johnson, going are his gifts. Her son saved three lives by donating his organs, including his heart. On Monday, Jamie will meet two of the donors for the first time. 

"I think I need these people there," said Jamie. "I need to celebrate Jacob's life, just to know how happy he was and how happy he still is." 

David Reeder, 49, now has one of Jacob's kidneys. He was on a waiting list for four years. Reeder says he's dealing with something he calls survivor's guilt. He says Jacob's young age of death is difficult to cope with. 

"He had a lot of promise, and now it'll be unfulfilled promise, but you know everything happens for a reason, and I'm putting a little pressure on myself on what am I supposed to do now," said Reeder.  

Jamie says it's like a part of Jacob is still here. She calls it an extension of his life, knowing he saved people helps her on tough days. 

"The school bus would come by everyday at 3:45 and I kept thinking, just stop, just stop and let him off. The first Christmas," said Jamie.      

As she learns more about the people, like David, her son helped save, she says it eases her loss.
"He is an ex-marine, he served in the military, he's a paramedic and Jacob probably would have hand picked these people himself. So, that's really the neat thing finding out later about the recipients," said Jamie. 

"The way Jamie has handled this has made the survivor's guilt better. She is such a giving person. It's just amazing," said Reeder.

David says he's still trying to find the words for Jamie when he meets her Monday. And Jamie looks for the good in this new year, finding peace even in her pain..

"I can't remember a Christmas without Jacob. So, just getting through those days, my husband had this made from the fingerprints that Southwest gave us, and whenever I looked at it, I said 'that's amazing, you can see a little butterfly in the middle'," said Jamie. 

Tonight, Jacob's heart beats strong in the chest of a 15-year-old Mississippi boy. A person Jamie can't wait to meet one day.

Monday night's event will be held from 6 to 8 at the Mineola Middle School. It's a public event, so anyone is invited to celebrate organ donor awareness, as well as Jacob's birthday. Jacob would have turned 16 Monday. 

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