May 21, 2024

Healt Hid

Because health is very important to us

Lenoir City man uses personal tragedy to help others

4 min read

Tens of thousands of people can wait anywhere from three to five years on an organ transplant list.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — According to organdonor.gov, only three in 1,000 people will die in a way that allows for deceased organ donation.

Losing a loved one is never easy, but for some, in their toughest moments of loss, they find the strength to give others the greatest gift of life.

One father, who lives in Lenoir City, learned through his own devastating loss how to change lives.

In 2018, Mike Wells and his wife Tami lost their beloved son, but made the decision to give others the gift of life by donating his organs.

“In 2018, unfortunately, my son passed away, and he declined to brain death,” said Mike Wells, a hospital services coordinator for Tennessee Donor Services. “And we were approached by Tennessee Donor Services. And they let me know that my son had the rare opportunity to save lives through organ donation. We made the decision to say yes to that. And I knew then that if I ever had the opportunity to work for this organization, to help save lives and promote organ donation, that I would do it.”

Wells ended up working for TDS just a few years later.

“I help educate the staff about the organ and tissue donation process,” said Wells. “And I’m really the face of Tennessee donor services inside of the hospitals. I build relationships with them because we collaborate with the hospitals to make organ and tissue donation possible.”

Before that heart-wrenching moment of donating his son’s organs, Wells says organ donation never crossed his mind.

“I had no idea how rare of an opportunity it is, for someone to die in a way to actually become an organ donor. That’s why it’s, it’s so precious, because there’s 100,000 people on a waiting list right now that need a lifesaving transplant. And there’s so few people that die in such a rare way that they can be an organ donor.”

Mike said his son Michael was able to save three lives through the donation of his heart, kidneys, and liver. 

“It’s so awesome that my son was able to save three lives. Two of the people, we don’t know who they are, where they are, and that’s fine. But we were very, very fortunate to meet one of the recipients, her name’s Rose. And we’ve become very close to them.”

He said his family spends holidays with Rose, who was his son’s heart transplant recipient.

“They’ve become part of the family. The first time we met Rose, I mean, I fell in love with her. There’s a bond there that I can’t even describe. And, you know, we talked about organ donation saving recipients’ lives, and it does. But we also saved that whole family from going through the same tragedy that my family went through. Because now they’re their child is living through the life-saving transplant that she received,” he said. “So the whole family has benefited along with the recipient as well. But we just love their family. It’s been very special, and very meaningful to my family, it has something good come out of something so tragic.”

Mike says he knows exactly what families are going through, and shares his experience to help other families by teaching nurses.

“Organ donation wouldn’t happen without nurses and hospitals,” said Wells. “But you know, when I’m teaching classes to them and talking to them, I can say, ‘Listen, I was that family at the bedside, I know what you know, what you’re doing and the families that you’re taking care of. I know exactly how that feels.’ And I’m so thankful that I was given the opportunity and approached to know that my options, you know, when that happened to my son, I had no idea that he was going to be or have the ability to save people through organ donation. But once that was explained to me by the TDS staff, now I can take that same information with nurses, and let them know that I was one of those families. And I know exactly the type of people that they’re caring for.”

Mike says you should consider becoming an organ donor for a chance to help change someone else’s life.

“I don’t want anybody to die,’ said Wells. “I certainly don’t want my I didn’t want my son to die. But unfortunately, people die. And my son didn’t need those organs, you know, he was done with them. And three people were able to live and survive because of the decision for us to allow him to be an organ donor. It’s very important, because it’s the right thing to do. The big picture, is there are a lot of people that are sitting there with their loved ones right now. There is a mother sitting out there right now that has a loved one that needs a life-saving organ. And that was one of the biggest motivations for us to say, ‘Listen, if we were in that situation, we would have accepted a life-saving organ to save our child. So why wouldn’t we be willing to give one?’ And so that’s really where it came down to. “

April also marks National Donate Life Month. It’s meant to bring awareness to organ and tissue donations, as well as honor donor families. People are also encouraged to sign up to be organ donors.

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