Their days were spent enjoying life together, not contemplating weighty topics like organ donation. But as life often does, it threw Corey and his family a curveball in July of 2021. An unanticipated accident left Theo with no brain activity in a hospital bed at Carle BroMenn Medical Center and a decision had to be made.
“I figured he would have wanted to be an organ and tissue donor,” Briggs says adding, “If someone else can use what God gave him to extend their life or improve their quality of life, it feels like something he would do and that makes us feel better.”
With that decision, Theo Briggs became one of six organ donors honored at the Gift of Hope ceremony and flag raising at Carle BroMenn. The selfless act of these donors is credited with saving 18 lives and although the Briggs family would give anything to have Theo back and whole, they take comfort in knowing that a part of him is still here on earth, living in the organ recipients whose lives his gift helped save.
“His spirit is still here,” Briggs says with pride, adding, “Donate life. Share it. You can’t take it with you. If you can help someone else, do it. God will love you even more for it.”
Today, as Briggs walks to work past the funeral home where he last saw and touched his brother Theo, he slows long enough to say hello and flash a peace sign in the air. The bond will never break, it’s just been transformed.
Last year, in addition to helping facilitate 30 organ referrals, resulting in six 6 donors and 18 lives saved, Carle BroMenn hospital staff assisted with 189 tissue referrals, resulting in 20 donors and immeasurable lives enhanced.
A lunchtime flag-raising on the Carle Foundation Hospital campus was followed by an Organ Donor Awareness Walk around the perimeter of the hospital property. Carle staff, donor families and recipients, and community members were invited to walk together in honor of organ donors for the hope they give.
Honored at the flag-raising ceremony were former Carle team member and donor-recipient Kim Busboom along with former Carle provider, William Schuh, MD. Dr. Schuh was a long-time emergent care physician with Carle Health.
In 2021, Carle Foundation Hospital facilitated 240 organ referrals, resulting in 22 organ donors, and 39 lives saved. Staff provided 699 tissue referrals, resulting in 111 tissue donors and countless lives enhanced.
Carle Health is proud to be part of the April National Donate Life Month “Say Yes!” campaign in partnership with Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network. The need for organ donors is critical. Staff, patients and community members are encouraged to learn more about organ donation and say yes to registering as an organ, eye & tissue donor, as Corey Briggs has done since his brother’s passing.
Gift of Hope is the not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) that coordinates organ and tissue donation and provides public education on donation in Illinois and northwest Indiana. As one of 57 OPOs that make up the nation’s organ donation system, Gift of Hope works with 180 hospitals and serves 12 million people in its donation service area. According to Gift of Hope, nationally, more than 106,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ transplant, with a new person being added to the waitlist every 9-10 minutes. And every day, 17 people die because the organ they need is not available.
One organ donor can save up to eight lives, restore sight in two people and heal more than 25 people through tissue donation. But although 95% of US adults support organ donation only 58% are registered donors.
Register your decision today to become an organ, eye and tissue donor at giftofhope.org. Talk with your family and friends about your decision to donate life.
Tags: Bloomington-Normal, , Carle BroMenn Medical Center, , Carle Foundation Hospital, , Champaign-Urbana, , Eureka, Organ donation,