An emotional ceremony was held in Tyler today between the families of organ donors and those whose lives were changed because of it. The annual event called Living and Giving is hosted by the Southwest Transplant Alliance to promote organ donor awareness.
"He was passionate about his friends, and family, and his motorcycle of course." Chris Johnson's aunt, Holly, remembers her 25-year-old nephew, and the phone call she got the night of his fatal motorcycle crash.
"It was in the evening when he had the accident, and they had him in life support when he got here to the hospital. The next day, they came in to run the tests to see if he could sustain life on his own, and he wasn't able to. He had massive head injuries," Holly said.
At the hospital, someone from the Southwest Transplant Alliance asked his family if they would consider organ donation. "They really didn't have a hard time making that choice, because Christopher was very giving in his own life," Holly said.
Five of Chris' organs went to perfect strangers, patients who were on a waiting list. But Holly knew someone who needed a liver. "David was my boss at Lakeside Baptist Church, and I had been working for him for approximately a year and a half, and the whole time I worked for him, he had been sick. I had never seen him well. We knew that he needed a liver," Holly said.
David Humphrey remembers the night he got the news. "The phone rang, and the voice on the other end was saying, 'David, we have you a liver. We have you a liver. Praise God.'"
It turns out, David and Chris were a perfect match. "So, the next day, Sunday, I had a new, 25- year-old liver inside of me," David said.
Today, Chris' mother met David for the very first time, along with the man who received Chris' heart. David says meeting the family reinforces the responsibility he feels, to make sure he makes the most of his second chance.
"One of the first things Holly did was give me the St. Christopher's Medal that he had around his neck, and I'll wear it the rest of my life, because it reminds me I have Chris inside of me. He will live on as long as I live," David said.
If you want to be an organ donor, the Transplant Alliance says the most important thing to do, is talk with your family. Then, should something happen to you, your next of kin would know your wishes.