When Evelyn of Missouri passed away from a heart attack, her family had no idea she had pledged to become an eye donor through the state’s donor registry.
Said her daughter, Deanna, “Mom had just gotten her driver’s license renewed a few months before her passing. On her license she had check-marked the box that she wanted to be a cornea donor. This was a surprise to all of us. Giving Mom’s corneas was still a very hard decision for Dad.”
Because Missouri became a first-person consent state in 2008, the decision to donate rests solely on the donor instead of the family. While her husband had trouble comprehending her decision initially, he and their children were inspired by her pledge, and they too made the choice to donate.
“It was something we talked about after her passing,” remarked Deanna. “Since donation was something that was important to her, we all made the decision we would check the box as well.”
While Evelyn’s decision was an initial surprise, her reasoning behind it wasn’t. Evelyn, a mother to four and a grandmother to nine, had long put others’ needs before her own whether it was volunteering at her church or writing letters to seniors living in nursing homes. According to Deanna, “Mom and Dad lived in a small community and knew people that needed help. If someone was in need, they were right there to provide assistance.”
Evelyn’s help didn’t end in Southwest Missouri. She and her sister both volunteered for and offered financial assistance to Asian Women & Children (AWC), a missionary in Thailand which provides support to women and a home for up to 50 orphaned girls each year. In lieu of flowers at Evelyn’s funeral, close to $3,000 was donated to AWC in her honor.
Since her passing, Evelyn continues to help others because of her pledge. Through her gift of sight, two individuals – a gentleman in Missouri and an individual in El Salvador – have been able to escape a lifetime of blindness.
To learn more about Missouri’s first-person consent registry or to pledge to donate, please visit www.donatelifemissouri.com.