Beth Bailes can’t talk to her son every day. She can’t see him at the holidays, or watch him fix yet another tricked-out car in the driveway. But Bailes takes comfort in knowing that her son, who died in 2003, is still out there — and still helping other people.
Beth Bailes can’t talk to her son every day. She can’t see him at the holidays, or watch him fix yet another tricked-out car in the driveway.
By the numbers
92,800: People on the national waiting list for an organ in 2006.
29,000: Organ transplants done in 2006.
77: People who receive an organ transplant each day.
18: People who die every day because an organ is not available.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
But Bailes takes comfort in knowing that her son, who died in 2003, is still out there — and still helping other people.
Joshua Moroney’s tissue, skin, veins and corneas were donated after he died of a heart attack at age 20. He had signed up to be an organ and tissue donor after he had a piece of his heart’s aorta replaced as an 18-year-old. He received it from a young man who died in a motorcycle accident.
“When he found out he was a recipient, he also wanted to be a donor,” his mother said. “He thought that was awesome, and he wanted to do the same thing if anything happened to him.”
Born with a heart defect, Moroney had several cardiac catheterizations over the years and needed surgery by age 18. Still, he was able to live a normal life, so the thought of becoming a donor was a far-off possibility.
On a summer night in June 2003, as Moroney was waiting to find out whether he had been accepted to nursing school, his heart gave out. Bailes suddenly found herself grieving her son’s unexpected death as well as helping his wish to become a donor come true.
She says she has been rewarded with the knowledge that “he’s out there helping people, and that’s what he wanted to do.”
In July, the Bailes family — Beth; her husband, Kevin; and their daughter, Faith — attended the 10th National Donor Recognition Ceremony in Washington on Moroney’s behalf. Sent by RTI Donor Services out of Madison, Wis., the family accepted a medal and award.
“We went there for him,” Beth Bailes said. “The trip was awesome. There was a lot of information there that we didn’t know. We got to talk about it, and about him, which helped.”
About 150 donors from across the country were honored at the event, which is every other year.
Like other donor families, the Baileses have received thank-you notes from some of Moroney’s recipients. Getting those letters brings up a mix of emotions for the family: a flood of memories, happiness for the lives that were improved, but sadness with the reminder of their loss.
Since Moroney’s death, Bailes said, her entire extended family has decided to become organ donors as well. Bailes herself has been a donor for many years.
“It’s a legacy we’re leaving,” she said. “I’ve always thought, ‘Let’s leave a mark on the world with it.'”
-- Rockford Register Star