Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a transplantation and donation symposium. The meeting opened with a story that was titled ‘The Lion and the Lamb’. I’ve heard this story before, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to hear from the prospective of both the recipient’s mother Tammy and the donor’s father Troy. I cannot begin to describe how touched I was by their stories.
To summarize the story, Landen was born with a rare heart disease and needed a heart transplant. His father decided to give him the middle name of Lion because he knew his son would need to be very strong to get through the first year of his life.
In Iowa, there was a young family that was involved in a very serious car accident. Two of the children died from injuries sustained in the accident and Troy made the decision to donate organs. When his 5 month old daughter Claire was being taken to the operating room, someone asked him if there was anything they could do for him. He looked at the bed his daughter had occupied since the accident and saw her little stuffed lamb. He asked that the lamb be sent with the heart.
When the stuffed lamb arrived at the hospital where Landen was going into surgery, his family was extremely touched at Troy’s thoughtfulness. They knew their little “Lion” was getting the heart of a lamb.
This story, just by its very nature is touching, but listening to the parents reminded me, if only for a moment, not to take life and those I love for granted. Troy stated that the morning of the accident started out like every other morning. He remembered walking down the stairs as his wife was heading up. He gave her a kiss and told her goodbye. His five year old son was watching Clifford the Big Red Dog and his three year old was playing with Star Wars action figures. Claire was sitting in a disc type chair playing with toys. His two sons ran to give him a hug as he headed toward the door. His five year old said, “I love you Dad. Have a good day.” Troy then stated, “Those were the last words I ever heard him say.”