On the day Vicki Kafer’s husband, Jeff, passed away, she said he was “feeling on top of the world” as he left work to get to his son’s baseball game. At the end of the game, he told her he needed to run an errand. His last words to her were, “See you soon.” But Jeff didn’t come home. Instead, a nurse from the hospital called. After that, our lives as we knew it, and as we had dreamed they would be, were changed,” Vicki says. An aortic aneurism had taken Jeff’s life.
Jeff was only 48 when he died, and he and Vicki had never discussed any plans if either were to die, Vicki explains. But Jeff had left the answer to one important question. When he renewed his driver’s license, he had signed up to be an organ and tissue donor.
“At first, I wasn’t strong enough to talk to Gift of Hope staff about donation, but they were very understanding,” Vicki says. “When they called again, I was ready because I was with a dear friend who told me about her own experience and the blessings donating brings.”
It was a natural decision, according to Vicki, because Jeff lived always trying to help others. And, as a donor, he continued to help others. “My eldest daughter knew this about her dad,” Vicki says, “and she asked the pastor to incorporate a lyric from a song when speaking of Jeff at his services.” The lyric she chose was from Kid Rock’s “Born Free”: “If you can’t see my heart, you must be blind.”
Jeff’s donations have helped 25 people live better lives. Vicki learned that Jeff’s corneas had been donated to a child in Chicago. “I think of what a visual person Jeff was,” she says. “He so enjoyed fishing, and I believe it was, not only the sport, but the scenery, the calm lakes and the serene wilderness.” Because of this, Vicki takes some consolation in knowing that a part of Jeff’s vision continues.
Today, when asked about her donation experience, Vicki tells people, “I hope that your next conversation with anyone includes their thoughts on being a donor and helping the 120,000 men, women and children currently in need of organ transplants.” And she strongly recommends that everyone sign up to be an organ and tissue donor. It offers great relief for a family when they are asked if their loved one wanted to be an organ donor and the answer is known.