Are You an Organ Donor?

My extended family received some terrible news Sunday afternoon. My first cousin’s son, Timmy Henley, was shot and killed during a drug deal in Atlanta Saturday night.

Timmy was only 33 years old. His life was marked by drugs, prison and many other problems. However, the last two or three years of his life were noted by a continual effort to overcome his addictions.

I last visited with Timmy on the night of October 15, the date of his grandfather’s (and my uncle) 80th birthday. Timmy visited with us for about three hours that night. I commented the next morning to my uncle how proud I was to see and hear of Timmy’s great progress. He had been drug free for almost a year, had a job and it seemed like he had turned a major corner in his battle against the demons of drug addiction. Little did I realize then that would be the last time I would see Timmy alive.

The authorities believe the execution-style murder was due to a major debt Timmy owed a local drug dealer. They believe Timmy’s friend was also set up for her execution as well. She, too, owed the drug dealer money. How tragic it is to think two lives were taken because of debt for drugs.

My uncle and cousin’s families are devastated. His funeral service will be this Thursday night in Knoxville, followed by a graveside on Friday morning. My mother and I will be heading that way very early Friday morning.

I called Timmy’s father and my first cousin, Danny Henley last night. Danny was so grief stricken he could hardly speak. Danny expressed a wide range of emotions throughout the call. He was so full of despair. He was also angry, angry enough to take revenge into his own hands. Thankfully his older brother helped him leave the murders in the Lord’s hands.

Even in the midst of tragedy, there are some glimmers of hope.

One shining ray of faith all of us share is that Timmy was born again a few years ago during his drug rehab treatment in Atlanta. He told his father and grandfather that one day during his rehab he got on his knees before God, admitted that he was a sinner and submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. For that decision we are all eternally thankful. Now, rather than just saying Timmy is gone, we can say Timmy is gone home to be with the Lord.

Another spark of hope that has encouraged us was that Timmy was an organ donor. Even though Timmy was pronounced brain dead upon arriving at the hospital, his heart continued to beat for several hours. Thus, the medical team was able to put his body on life support in order to harvest some of his organs for transplant patients across the country. The medical team honored a request Timmy made years ago after a terrible traffic accident where 30% of his body was badly burned. Soon after that wreck he noted on his driver’s license he wanted his organs donated.

Even in the midst of tragedy Timmy’s family can rejoice because…

  • a 16-year old girl in Georgia was given a new hear
  • a 30-year old man in Tennessee was given a new lease on life
  • his stomach was given to a man in another part of the country
  • Timmy’s large intestines were given to a grandmother battling cancer
  • His corneas were donated to an 18-month old baby who could not see
  • His bones, ligaments, tissue and skin were donated to various hospitals across the country.
  • The only organs the transplant team could not use were his lungs because they had already started to fill with fluid

My cousin tells me an entire team of doctors, surgeons and nurses were on hand with airplanes waiting as they received each of these organs. Additionally, a nurse from the organ transplant group in Atlanta remained with Timmy’s body through the autopsy performed by the police coroner. She wanted the family to know that someone was with Timmy’s body at all times during this life-giving process. Danny said it was ironic how thankful he was even in the midst of all this tragedy.

I apologize for the graphic nature of today’s blog. I was compelled, however, to write this story in memory of Timmy and in honor of his life-giving donation to so many people. Yes, Timmy had his faults, foibles and sins. Don’t we all, though? The only difference between Timmy’s sins and many others was that they were so public.

Are you an organ donor? Many years ago I noted on my driver’s license that I wanted to be an organ donor. It is easy to do. Organ donors are live-savers. Timmy wasted many years of his life on drugs. Those years can never be taken back, yet nothing about his life was wasted in his death. Even in his death, Timmy was a life-saver.

To learn more about being an organ donor, click here.


5 Responses to “Are You an Organ Donor?”

  1. 1 mandi
    December 5, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    What a moving story. Thank you for sharing that with us. I have never been able to understand why someone would not want to be an organ donor. Our body is a gift to us from God and after we die it is useless to us but valuable to others. I’ll gladly trade in my earthly body for the perfect one I’ll have in Heaven. Isn’t it great to think that Timmy’s addiction now is sitting at the feet of Christ and worshipping him for eternity?

  2. 2 VickieJerkins
    December 5, 2007 at 7:49 pm


    My deepest sympathies to you and your extended family. While Timmy’s life was filed with many tribulations, may the family find a measure of comfort in knowing that his suffering is through & that he is now at peace with the Lord.

    Please have a safe trip. We will keep you all in our thoughts & prayers.

    And yes, I am an Organ Donor and regular Blood Donor. For how could I ever expect that someone would donate such a life-giving blessing to me … if I would not agree to help others?

    -Vickie Jerkins & family

  3. 3 Anonymous
    December 5, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family tonight and tomorrow as you travel and minister.

    Oh God, grant the grace necessary, oh Father welcome Timmy our brother, thank you for his and our salvation.

    God be with you.

  4. 4 MYoung
    December 7, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Even in the midst of such a tragedy, we see the evidence of miracles.

    It’s always tough to deal with a death that seems, on the surface, to be senseless. However, as an organ donor Timmy has saved and changed the lives of numerous people.

    I fully support organ donation. Keep in mind, checking “organ donor” on your license isn’t enough. The next-of-kin has the final decision, so please be sure to discuss your wishes with whomever will make this choice.

    God works in mysterious ways. The week of Thanksgiving, my uncle was killed suddenly in a motor vehicle accident. A loving family man and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. While being evaluated for organ donation, it was discovered he had a tumor on his kidney and the cancer had spread into his lymph nodes. He had no idea! God had taken him home in a instant during the accident, instead of a prolonged battle with cancer. Certainly what one might call a “silver lining”.

    My prayers go out to the family and friends impacted by Timmy’s death.

    God Bless!

  5. 5 Anonymous
    December 10, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Larry and I are organ donors. His cousin had to wait for a kidney twice. So many people are in need of organs and waiting is painful for them and the families. When we are thru with our bodies, it would only seem natural that someone else be able to use our organs. What a gift to leave when we are gone. Our death=eternal life. I’ll take it anytime. Gay

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