On Father’s Day 2010, Kay Rogers faced tragedy when his asthmatic, 11-year-old son, Nicholas, stopped breathing. Despite Kay’s CPR efforts and the work of the paramedics, physicians and nurses, Nicholas’ heart stopped. Caregivers eventually restarted his heart, but he was left with severe brain damage and could not survive without ventilator support. “Our shock was numbing,” Kay said. “I wondered, ‘How can our lives go on?’”
The family decided to remove ventilator support and give Nicholas the opportunity to offer the gift of life as an organ and tissue donor. “My wife, Nick’s mom, his stepdad and I all were sharing our grief when someone made the suggestion,” Kay said. “We all agreed that it was the right thing to do.”
Nicholas was declared brain-dead on June 22. “From that point on, Gift of Hope took over the care of my son,” Kay explained. “The sadness was overwhelming, but all that changed when we learned where Nicholas’ organs went and whom he helped.”
His heart went to a 14-year-old boy, his liver to an 11-year-old boy, his left kidney and pancreas to a 34-year-old man, his right kidney to a 50-year-old woman, and his lungs to research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
“That’s when the weight started to lift and my life went on,” Kay said. “And the most important thing was knowing we helped spare parents the grief we are living with. Without a doubt or regret, life goes on for us and for the people we helped.”