Deb Holt had never discussed organ donation with her siblings. It just wasn’t something that came up.
“You get together at holidays, you just don’t think about talking about those things,” she says. “I had never even thought about organ donation–none of us had.”
But when Deb’s 56-year-old brother, Steve Hegman, had an accident and was put on life support, she and her brothers had some decisions to make. Steve wasn’t married and didn’t have children, so it was up to his siblings.
“Shortly before they took him off life support, they asked us if he wanted to donate his organs,” Deb says. “I said, ‘Let’s see if Steve put anything on his driver’s license about being a donor’—he had—and then we heard from some of his friends who said he had also mentioned it to them.”
Steve was a musician, so at the suggestion of Regions caregivers and representatives from LifeSource, soft jazz music was played while he was being taken off life support and his organs removed.
“It was all so cool,” says Deb. “It turned out to be very rewarding, and it felt very good. Steve donated everything: eyes, skin, tissue, organs. We later got a letter from a man who had received his kidney. He said it saved his life. It was really neat to hear.”
Steve Hegman is among nearly 170 donors being honored on the new Gift of Life Memorial Wall in the Regions Hospital Atrium. The Wall will be unveiled on Feb. 25 and feature photos and stories of people, like Steve, who changed other people’s lives with their gift.
Also like Steve, many of the donors being honored made their wishes known before it was too late. Others did not, leaving it to their families to make the choice.
“It’s such an easy conversation to have,” says Deb. “It’s not scary. It’s very respectful and comforting that Steve is living on in other people. You don’t want to be in that situation of trying to guess what your loved one wants.”
Just one person can save and heal up to 60 lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. You can become a donor by registering at life-source.org.