Giving Nature Brings Joy and Hope for New Life

IMG_1928Marsha Goodheart recalls how her 16-year-old grandson, Ryan Yurs, could light up a room with his smile.

“He was kind, compassionate and sensitive,” she says. “He smiled on the outside but had an inner battle going on inside.”

Ryan Yurs struggled with depression and mental health issues. “It was hard to watch a once fully alive person to slowly lose his life force and be powerless to help him,” she says.

He ended his inner battle by taking his life in March 2010. “It was by far the worst day of our family’s life,” Marsha says. Her grandson was pronounced dead at the hospital, but his body remained on a respirator as his family struggled to accept their loss.

In providing support to the family, the ICU doctors and nurses explained that Ryan could become an organ and tissue donor. The family understood it was an opportunity “to turn this complete tragedy into a chance to save more lives,” Marsha says.

The Goodheart family with one of Ryan's recipients, Andy.

The Goodheart family with one of Ryan’s recipients, Andy.

“Knowing Ryan’s giving nature, he would have wanted that,” she says. “We said ‘yes’ to allow Ryan to live on by becoming an organ and tissue donor.”

The recipient of Ryan's lungs, Joe.

The recipient of Ryan’s lungs, Joe.

As a result, Ryan gave life to several recipients of his heart, lungs, liver, corneas, bone and other tissues. His family has since received nine letters from people whose lives he saved and improved.

“We have met the lung and liver recipients. They are such gracious people,” Marsha says. “When I look in their eyes, I see Ryan’s smile again. I see joy and happiness and hope for new life. Nothing can take away our loss and pain of losing Ryan. But we know Ryan is a hero, not only to us, but to many others as well. It is amazing how just one donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 25 people. And Ryan is now a part of this.”

Marsha urges others to register as donors. “You may have a chance to make a difference, help save lives and give hope to families. Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor and encourage your family and friends to become one, too.”

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