It was a normal February afternoon in 1993. Brian Jack Robinson and his older brother, Colin, went to a recreation center with a neighbor to pick up the neighbor’s daughter from gymnastics class. Nobody expected that a 250-lb roll of linoleum left unattended by remodelers would knock Brian to the floor, causing a traumatic head injury. And at the ER at Oregon Health & Science University, his family learned that the damage was catastrophic: a herniated brain stem. Brian was dead.
“I realize every day how unpredictable and fragile life can be,” says Brian’s mother, Leslie Coefield. “I could not control whether Brian lived or died, but what I could control was the decision for him to be a donor. It was empowering and a privilege—a decision I have never regretted.”
Because Brian suffered a cardiac death instead of brain death, he couldn’t be placed on artificial life support. Starved of blood and oxygen, Brian’s organs couldn’t be donated. But his corneas and heart valves helped three people – two who gained the gift of sight, and one who received the gift of life. And one day, Leslie would love to meet them.
“It has given me great comfort to know that something good could come from the devastating loss of my son,” Leslie continues. “I have spent the last several years as a member of the Donor Family Advisory Committee. This has been a wonderful opportunity to create and plan events to make sure donor families are not forgotten and that their family members are honored for the priceless gift of tissue and organ donation.”
For each of us, Leslie gives this advice about organ, eye, and tissue donation: “Registering is a personal choice. Talk to your family; share your feelings, discuss what your fears or objections may be. Learn the facts in order to make an informed decision. Also consider what an incredible life-changing difference you could make should you experience an unexpected, untimely death.”