FTWGG | FALL 2013

A Teenager's Life-Saving Decision

Michael Doherty, Jr. was a caring, thoughtful, and outgoing person. He was especially passionate about motocross racing and his yellow GTO, the sight of which always put a smile on his face. He also loved spending time with Matthew, his younger brother by nine years. Michael adored Matthew from the moment he saw him and was proud that he chose his name.

During a conversation about life with his family at the age of 15, Michael inquired about donation. His parents explained that a person can give doctors permission to remove organs and tissue, such as corneas, after death in order to give them to someone in need. According to Michael's mother, Lisa, "Michael liked this idea. He asked us, 'Why wouldn't you donate your organs? You don't need them anymore, but others do.' I am glad we talked about this. Little did we know that this conversation would have significance three years later."

On October 9, 2009, Michael, a senior in high school, turned 18. A couple of weeks later on Sunday, October 25, Michael was a passenger in his friend's car as they were returning home from visiting another friend. "I happened to be outside getting the mail when all of a sudden I heard an extremely loud bang and a crashing sound. My heart dropped because somehow, I knew it was my son," said Lisa. "When I realized that this was true, all that followed became one huge, disastrous blur.

Michael had a temporary driver license, but had planned to register as a donor when he got his permanent license. After conferring with their pastor and doctor, Michael's parents knew he would have wanted to donate his organs and tissue, including his corneas. "We have received tremendous support from the New England Organ Bank. They have provided us with an Aftercare Program, which has been helpful in getting us through this difficult time," noted Lisa.

In June 2010, his father, Michael, Sr. walked across the stage and received Michael's graduation diploma; a five-minute-long standing ovation followed. The Dohertys have since planted a tree in their community in Michael's name, and are comforted by the knowledge that Michael's love of life and spirit of helping live on.

Submitted by TBI Boston