“To know Tommy, he preferred Thomas, was to know someone who was helpful, respectful, loyal, and enjoyed spending time with his family, friends, and his dog. Thomas was happiest working with his hands and going hiking, camping, and riding his motorcycle,” says his mother Charlotte.
Thomas had made the decision to join the organ, eye and tissue donor registry. “I didn’t know until after the accident that he was an organ donor, but I wasn’t surprised,” says Charlotte. “Through his cornea donations, his legacy in helping others continues so that he could keep on giving to others. He didn’t know a stranger; he was that kind. Because Tommy’s corneas were separately donated, he was able to be doubly generous.”
Thomas & his mother Charlotte
Thomas & his brother Colt in Colorado
His left cornea helped restore the eyesight of a cornea transplant recipient and his right cornea went to a research facility in order to help discover the cause, and hopefully a cure, for a genetic eye disease called PPCD (Polymorphous Corneal Dystrophy).
Charlotte took part in Saving Sight’s correspondence program to say thank you to his recipients and to share about Tommy.
“I reached out to Tommy’s left cornea recipient to build a connection. I wanted to know who had been blessed with the gift of sight because of my oldest son’s generosity. The recipient happily replied. And we began to learn – I learned about the recipient as a person and the recipient was learning about Thomas as a person. It has been very rewarding for me.”
She also chose to reach out to the researcher who received Thomas’ right cornea tissue. “Because one of Tommy’s corneas went to a research facility, I wanted to make sure the scientists were making the most of their precious and life-giving donation. Eye research is important to me because it impacts the future. If PPCD (Polymorphous Corneal Dystrophy) can come even one step closer to being cured, then it’s worth the effort. If one person doesn’t have to worry about possibly going blind, then eye, tissue, and organ donation are worth giving.”
As a donor family, Charlotte has found comfort in supporting donation and in Thomas’ legacy living on. “As a donor family, donation is a way to give back, the ultimate in paying it forward. Finding out that my oldest son wanted to give of his self after he was gone, made me even more proud to be Thomas’ mom. Because I honored my son’s wish, he lives on – twice. I am comforted that Thomas’ donation benefited a recipient to see clearly again and research is actively exploring a cure for PPCD.”
“Thomas made a conscious decision to give of his self beyond his last breath. And I could not be more proud of him for his ever continuing gift of sight. Thomas, my oldest son, had the most deep blue eyes that continue to see even though Thomas cannot.”
Joining the Organ Donor Registry
You can join the national organ, eye and tissue donor registry at registerme.org. “I have been considering becoming an organ donor. Even though I wear glasses, I have been advised that I could still give the gift of sight to someone else,” says Charlotte.