Rick was an active family man who continued to give in death as an eye donor.

Rick enjoyed having a good time in all he did. He was also a good steward and gave his time freely to help others and loved spending time with his wife, children and grandchild. Rick lived an active lifestyle, was a gifted craftsman and an excellent athlete. He had given up basketball the year prior when he had heart surgery, but continued to play volleyball and golf until he passed away at age 61. Rick was a sports car enthusiast, an active deacon and church youth leader, and had served in the Missouri Army National Guard.

“He’s just a great guy gone way too soon,” said his wife Theresa.

Rick passed away of a heart attack during a volleyball game in 2014. “It was very hard on his teammates – they performed CPR – but I was very thankful he was not by himself,” said Theresa. Because living an active lifestyle was so important to Rick, he and his wife had talked about organ donation and end-of-life-care.

“While in shock and coming to grips that terrible night, there wasn’t a doubt that we were going to do the organ donation,” said Theresa. She and Rick were both blood donors and registered organ donors; they believed in giving what they could to help others. “It’s good to have those conversations, even though they’re not fun,” said Theresa. “You’re just so totally lost and in shock, but having some direction

Rick and Theresa share the belief in giving what they can to help others.

about what you’ve talked about gives you confidence in making these tough decisions.”

Theresa said some people might not understand the immediacy of the questions about donation. Hospital staff, the funeral home director and Saving Sight all explained the process and made the difficult situation as positive as it could be. It was impactful for her that Rick was able to help people until the very end with his gift of life.

Being able to donate his corneas meant a lot to Theresa because Rick had prided himself on his excellent eyesight compared to her needing strong corrective lenses. Because of Saving Sight’s correspondence program, Theresa knows Rick’s cornea was able to help a nurse regain her vision.

“It just helps me as I transition to life without him – it helps me know that I honored a wish of his,” said Theresa. Both of their children are nurses as well. Knowing their father’s recipient was a nurse resonated with them and reinforced to Theresa that it was a ‘meant-to-be kind of thing.’

Theresa said individuals thinking about joining the donor registry need to personally evaluate if that’s the right decision for them within their belief system. If it is, they need to be able to communicate that to their next-of-kin so it’s not a surprise when handling end-of-life-care. “That’s what I can really recommend – communicate. Death is hard enough, but when there’s surprises, that can be a challenge,” said Theresa.

Join the millions of Americans who have signed up for the donor registry by signing up online at registerme.org or at your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. And be sure to share your decision to be an eye, organ and tissue donor with your family and friends.