Semper Fi: More Than a Motto – The Mission
The story of Troy Mitchell did not end the day he was murdered. In fact his legacy lives on, not only in his wife, seven sons and granddaughter, but in five men he never met yet gave life. From the time Troy was shot, Kelly, his wife, prayed for a miracle. It came but not for her, instead for strangers on the brink of death themselves. “I know somewhere out there, there’s five people alive because of Troy,” said Kelly. “Part of Troy is going on right now.” Well before that fateful day in October of 2009, Troy and Kelly agreed if anything happened to either of them, they wanted their organs donated. So on October 31, three days after he was shot, the decorated Marine who had lived his life in service to others, gave all he had left to give. “He served God, his country, certainly his family and this would be another way, his last way, physically that he could give,” said Kelly. Troy was able to donated six organs to five men, well above the national average of 3.66. Tennessee Donor Services helped coordinate the donation process for the Mitchell family. The organization’s research shows on average every day 17 people die in the U.S. waiting on an organ. There are 110,000 people on the waiting list — 2,400 in Tennessee alone. Currently only 30 percent of Tennesseans are registered organ donors. “We are 43rd in the nation, pretty dismal,” said Ally Wimberly with Tennessee Donor Services. It is estimated that one person can save or radically change the lives of as many as 50 people through organ and tissue donation. Tissues that can be donated include your corneas, ligaments, tendons, long bones, short bones and even vertebral discs. Getting to the point where a donation is possible comes only after meticulous medical tests are completed and it is proven that there is no longer brain activity. “Brain death is the very same as clinical death,” said Wimberly, a registered nurse. “On the chart it will be written brain death note, time of death and that is declared.” By the time the person is taken into surgery, hours of careful cross-matching has been performed. Once removed the heart must be transplanted within two to four hours, while the kidneys can survive up to 72 hours. Just like it was yesterday, Kelly remembers escorting Troy along with his parents all the way to the doors of the operating room. “The surgeon said he wished we could see the other side.” On the other side, a 61-year-old man in Nashville now with the heart of a warrior, in North Carolina a 60-year-old man breathes new life into Troy’s lungs, a 50-year-old Memphis oncologist still saves lives thanks to Troy’s liver and in Nashville and Knoxville two fathers can watch their kids grow up thanks to new kidneys and for the man in Knoxville, a new pancreas, too. “Some day I hope to meet just one,” said Kelly. “I’d like to tell them a little bit more about Troy and how he lived his life.” It was a life of giving, a life of sacrifice, a life lived as an example, one that Kelly hopes inspires others to share life by simply becoming an organ donor. “Someone else’s family can have more time,” said Kelly. Kelly admits there are still bad days when she feels even life sentences were not good enough for Ameale Hudson and Justin Gray, times when anger takes over that her boys must grow up without their father and times of overwhelming sadness when she just misses her best friend. Yet through it all, she is grateful and always faithful. “There is a bigger picture,” said Kelly. “And when I get to heaven and God allows me to see why this happened, it’s going to be amazing.” If you would like to learn more about how to become an organ donor visit www.donatelifetn.org.