Mary Iden will tell you she is the mother of two heroes. “The first is my son, Steve, who served seven years in the U.S. Army and two tours in Iraq and luckily came home safe. The second is my daughter, Jeanette, who died from a drug-induced heart attack and became an organ donor.”
Jeanette was gorgeous, full of life, kind, caring, with a wonderful smile and was friendly to everyone, Mary said. “She had an infectious giggle, and her nose would crinkle with this giggle. She loved fashion, high heels, make-up and Chanel Chance perfume.”
When tragedy struck, the ER physicians were able to get Jeanette’s heart beating again, but her brain had gone too long without oxygen, and she was declared brain-dead. She was put on a mechanical ventilator and sent to the intensive care unit. There, she was closely monitored by the ICU and Gift of Hope staff. “They were so compassionate and caring,” she said. “Our family and I were treated with respect and sympathy.”
Then, in the midst of tragedy and grief, a bright moment arose, Mary said. The doctor told the family that because Jeanette was a registered organ and tissue donor, she would be donating many of her organs. “Wow! The darkness was lifted,” Mary recalled. “She will save lives and live on. I am now a proud donor mother, and Steve is a proud donor brother.”
A 49-year-old man received Jeanette’s left kidney and pancreas; a 47-year old man received her right kidney and liver. “I have a feeling that both recipients may be tempted to go out shopping for a Gucci handbag and some stiletto heels,” Mary said with a smile.
Mary also is an Advocates for Hope volunteer with Gift of Hope. Jeanette’s cousin, Anne, is an Advocate, too, in honor and memory of her “baby cousin. They are both working to encourage people to register as organ and tissue donors. “Donation benefits donors and their family members,” Mary said. “You can save lives and give your family a little bright spot during a tragic time.”