Ten years ago, Brandon, a high school senior, finished his morning football practice and hopped in a jeep with some of his friends. Minutes later, the jeep he was riding in rolled. Brandon did not survive the accident. His friends and the community came together to grieve and show support to his family.
In another Utah community, Marlee was fighting for her own life as her kidneys were failing. A decision Brandon made when he received his driver license was about to change her life and the lives of four others on the organ transplant waiting list. He had marked yes to organ donation, and his family honored his wishes when given the option of donation. His friends organized an organ donation registration and awareness event in his honor and about a year after his death, Marlee and Brandon’s family were able to meet. Brandon left a legacy not only in his circle of family and friends, but within the relationship circles of the people whose lives he saved.
As the ten-year anniversary of Brandon’s death approaches, Marlee is doing great and enjoying the second chance for life she was given. She shares her story and talks about Brandon at every opportunity. She says she never takes life for granted and the transplant has given her a new appreciation for every new day. Brandon’s other kidney was transplanted in a young boy. That boy has since graduated from high school and is now older than Brandon was when he died. A woman who received one of Brandon’s corneas continues to see her children and the world clearly because of the gift of sight Brandon gave to her.
Brandon’s family will always miss him. The decision to honor his donation wishes was not an easy decision they made in a hospital room 10 years ago, but it has brought them comfort and peace over the years.