As an active mother and grandmother, Kim Neal never imagined her life’s story would include bringing awareness to organ donation and keeping her son David John Neal’s name alive.
In January 2019, Kim’s life changed forever. David was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and placed in the ICU. Within days of admission, David’s health began to deteriorate. The unthinkable happened and David passed away at age 31 on January 22.
Through the support of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA), Kim decided to authorize organ donation. Kim’s decision was made easier knowing that her son David received outstanding care at Our Lady of the Lake.
Excellent Patient Care
Kim often credits Jeffrey Gruner, MD, and Charles Bowie, MD, for going above and beyond to ensure David was comfortable during his time at Our Lady of the Lake. David’s team of doctors and nurses kept Kim informed every step of the way and followed Kim’s wishes to connect her with supportive care services and LOPA.
“I could not have asked for a better team, they were wonderful. I was included in everything. The Lake continued to support me,” Kim says. “They didn’t just say now your child is an organ donor, they really worked together with LOPA, and I could not have had a better experience.”
A Miracle in the Making
David helped four individuals through his organ donations, which included his kidneys, liver and heart. Kim found healing when told that David’s organs were donated to people she would be able to connect with through LOPA.
“I received letters from the recipients thanking my son for saving their lives. I was so grateful to God that my child would be able to live on through his recipients,” Kim says. “We all have an outstanding relationship. I keep in contact with them daily, some even call me mom.”
David lived a short but impactful life, and his story has inspired many to register to donate their organs to help save lives.
“David was all about helping people. I created a hero book that contains all the correspondence I have received from LOPA so that one day my granddaughter can look back and see just how much of a hero her dad was,” Kim says.
Kim understands organ and tissue donation is a difficult topic in the African American community but says she wants to do her part to break down some of the stigma attached to it or at least open a dialogue about the issue.
“I tell my child’s story to inspire others. If you are considering becoming an organ or tissue donor, follow your heart because not only can you save one life, you can save multiple lives,” she says.
By adding your name to the donor registry, you will help save and enhance the lives of people and leave a legacy for your loved ones.
August is National Multi-Ethnic Donor Awareness Month. Join the commitment to saving lives. Register as an organ and tissue donor in Louisiana or Mississippi.