TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Local organ donors were honored at the Celebration of Giving and Living in Tyler today. Among the giving families was the O'Leary family. They lost their twenty year old son in a motorcycle accident nearly two years ago. Tom O'Leary says donating his sons organs has helped his family work through their grief, knowing something positive came out of their tragic situation.
"He was my best friend. I want to put [my cell phone] up to my head and hear him say, hey dad," said Tom O'Leary. His son's voice is now just a memory. Chris O'Leary was a sophomore at Texas A&M when a motorcycle wreck in Tyler took his life. It all happened in front of his father's eyes. "It is un describable when it hits you, you just stop," said Tom.
To move forward, the O'Leary family donated Chris's organs. They were surrounded by dozens of local families who did the same at the Southwest Transplant Alliance's annual celebration. They were all honored by the alliance. "There are currently over 108,000 people waiting for a life saving transplant," said Sharon Brown with Southwest Transplant Alliance.
One of the faces in the crowd was 12 year old Harley Duffer. Just a few months ago, he was on the wait list for a new heart. He came to the banquet thanks to a donation he received on Christmas day. Harley said it was the "best Christmas present ever...I felt bad that the donor family had to lose someone, but I was glad that I got to live my life."
Tom says his son's organs helped save four lives. Lives, like Harley's, that were worth saving. "What good would it do for his organs to be on my fire place? There are four other families who didn't lose somebody because of that," said Tom.
The Southwest Transplant Alliance says if you want to be an organ donor, you must register your wish. The Donate Life Texas Registry hopes to reach 1,000,000 registered organ donors in Texas by the end of the year.