After 2 decades of kidney disease and several years of dialysis, Gloria received the gift of life through a paired kidney exchange.
“Momma, I’m a donor. I’m going to save someone one day!”
Cassandra “Cassie” Harris’s mother, Pamela Clary, remembers the conversation and the pride in Cassie’s voice just six months before her daughter’s death. Cassie had renewed her state ID card at the DMV and checked the box to register as a donor. She received her ID in the mail, looked at the little heart printed on it, and smiled brightly.
Pamela vividly remembered her daughter’s bright smile on the dark day in June 2018 that hospital staff handed her Cassie’s wallet as they discussed Cassie’s grave condition. Pamela looked through the wallet, at her daughter’s ID card, and thought about Cassie – the baby of the family who had been so full of life – and had what Pamela calls, “an A-ha! moment.” Pamela says it was then that she asked the hospital, “is there any way she can donate?”
Remembering Cassie’s statements about donation was the most important part of the acceptance process for her family. It was difficult to say good-bye to this vibrant young woman who was a beloved daughter and sister and mother to a young son. Cassie had been bubbly, energetic – an adventurer. Her mom explains, “She was her siblings’ best cheerleader, her mom’s best helper, and her dad’s best farmhand. And she loved her son with all she had.”
Cassie believed she would save a life one day, and indeed, she did. In fact, she saved five lives by donating her heart, lungs, liver, and both kidneys. Her family has been fortunate to receive letters from two of the recipients – the lung recipient and one of the kidney recipients. Pamela says they hope to eventually hear from them all, and that the communication they’ve had with Cassie’s recipients has gone a long way toward helping to ease the grief of losing her daughter.
Being a donor family has changed Cassie’s family. Pamela says, “New hope springs!” And she encourages others: “Check the box. You won’t be sorry. There were questions we had, but learning through the process has helped with the healing. They do the donation respectfully and honor the donor through the whole process. There is nothing but good that can come from donation – for the donor family and the recipients!”