It was the summer of 1998 when Barrows,an executive for IBM,and his wife first learned that Tim had decided to become an org-an donor.
Bursting excitedly into their Raleigh home one afternoon,Tim waved the learner's permit he had just received,then handed the precious card to his dad.
John studied the photo of his son,looking like a young James Dean,cool smirk and all.It was only when he moved his thumb t-hat he spotted the small red heart in the lower-right-hand co-rner.He knew immediately what it meant.A former U.S.Army lieu-tenant and a highly decorated veteran of combat in Vietnam,Jo-hn also knew what a human body could look like after violent death or traumatic injury.For a long moment his gaze was rive-ted to the heart.Then he locked eyes with his boy.
"Have you given this a lot of thought?Is it what you really want to do?"
"Yes,Dad,it's something that I reslly want to do."
John Barrows hugged his son."I love you,"he told Tim,
Both John and Cheryl were deeply moved by the boy's courage and generosity of spirit.At the time,they chose not to dwell on the possibility that,some day,his pledge might need to be honored.
Then,barely three months later,the unthinkable happened.
On Halloween night 1998,as Tim rode in a Chevy Blazer driven by his 16-year-old friend Scott Miller,their vehicle was broa-dsided by a van speeding along at more than 70 m.p.h.The van's driver,25-year-old Oscar Melendez,had plopped himself behind the wheel with nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blo-od.
Both boys suffered severe injuries to their brains. Melendez,who had convictions for drunk driving,assault and fraud,suffe-red a hip injury.
Summoned to WakeMed hospital late that night,John and Cheryl Barrows were given the grim news:Their son Tim was not expect-ed to survive more than 15 hours.His friend,too,was dying.
The grief was unbearable.As both boys slipped away,words see-med futile,all John and Cheryl could do was hold each other t-ight.Numbly,they stood by while an elderly Catholic priest ga-ve Tim the last rites.
Finally,gathering their other three sons and their nephew,Sc-ott Pettingill,outside the ICU,John and Cheryl reminded them of Tim's desire to become an organ donor.They talked together,asked questions,tried to grasp what it now meant.But there wa-s never any real doubt:They would honor Tim's wish.
When the Barrows family walked into that Raleigh meeting roomearly last spring,Huey Lumley was not the only organ recipienton hand.Thanks to Carolina Donor Services,a local organ-procu-rement organization,many others had been located and invited.
Bobby Wester,43,a tall,goateed house-construction worker fromRocky Mount,N.C.,told of his desperate,two and a half years w-ait for a liver transplant.Infected with hepatitis C,yellow w-ith jaundice and taking more than 20 different pills a day,West-er was so sick that he could barely get out of bed.The cause of his illness,doctors believed,was infection from a small ta-ttoo that had been etched into his left arm 25 years earlier--a dare from his Army buddies.
When one of his blood vessels burst and he began spitting upblood,Wester figured his days were numbered.Then,during a six-hour operation at the Duke University Medical Center in Novem-ber 1998,Wester was given Tim's liver.
Now,mors than two years later,Wester was going at full throt-tle,even playing league softball and golf."Heck,we're going f-ishing for bass later today,"he told some of the others in the room,gesturing over to his teenage daughter.
Not all of the organ recipients were able to come to Raleigh.Virgal Neace,a 65-year-old former welding supervisor in Lomda-rd,Ill.,who had received one of Tim's kidneys,was crest-fallen that he hadn't learned about the gathering in time to make the travel arrangements.
In a phone conversation two days earlier,Neace spoke of batt-ling coronary and circulatory problems so severe that they ne-cessitated open-heart surgery and 70 blood transfusions.Growing steadily weaker,he was forced to stop working on Good Friday,1990."By the time I got Tim's kidney,"he told John Barrows,"Icouldn't even pull the starter on my lawn mower.The pain was just so bad."But now Neace was cutting his own grass again,bl-owing the snow--doing so many things that make him feel alive and usefuf."I just can't tell you what it's like to have my s-trength return,to feel like I'm thirty-five again."
After the introductions were completed,John and Cheryl asked all the organ recipients and their families to take seats.Th-e room fell quiet as the two began to speak.
John Barrows talked first about their emotional courtroom co-nfrontation in July 1999 with Oscar Melendez,the driver who had killed Tim and his friend.Melendez pleaded guilty to two coun-ts of second-degree murder,expecting leniency from the court in return.In stead,the judge sentenced him to thirty one and a half years to thirty-nine years in prison.
They talked about the 76,000 other people across the country who were still on waiting lists for organ transplants.And ho-w,because of the acute shortage of donors,only a third of tho-se desperately ill patients might ever realize their dream--while another third would die waiting.
But mostly John and Cheryl talked about Tim.The youngest and smallest of their four boys,Tim had been a rebel,a jokester.A kid who never bragged or boasted,and seemed to have a million best friends.
"Before today,I so wished that all of you could have known T-im,"John Barrows told everyone."Now you do."
"My son's death wasa tragedy,"Cheryl said."But the fact that he was able to help so many people makes us proud.We want you to go away from here today being happy.our son would have wan-ted you to be happy too."
While John and Cheryl spoke,Tim's learner's permit was passedaround the table.on the face of the card,everyone could see T-im's impish,smiling countenance.And,of course,the small red he-art that had so profoundly altered all their lives.
As the card moved from person to person,the room grew somber and still.Bobby Wester reached for a handkerchief and buried his face in his hands.When the card reached Tim's brother sha-un,he began to weep.Suddenly Wester rose from his seat,circled the table and dropped to his knees by Shaun's side.Then he w-rapped his arms around the boy's shouldeds and sobbed rihgt a-long with him.
In the end,Tim Barrows's"gift of life"proved to be a remarka-bly generous one.
Besides the donation of most of his major organs--his heart,one lung,liver and both kidneys--Tim's corneas were given to a42-year-old man in New Jersey and a 24-year-old woman in Ralei-gh.A total of 319 tissue grafts from his body were distributed nationwide,with at least 100 patients already having been recip-ients.Bone and tissue from these grafts were utilized in oper-ations on 19 orthopedic patients in six different states,and we-re prepared for dental surgeries in at least a dozen more sta-tes.
Behind these remarkable numbers were scores of individual li-ves,changed forever.And none were more dramatically helped th-an those who gathered in Raleigh to honor Tim's lifesaving be-quest.
It was Joshua Knight's dad,Brian,who summed it up best:
"There just aren't any words in the English language to expr-ess what we feel.The words thank you aren't enough.It's somet-hing bigger than thank you...way bigger.And every one of us f-eels it."
海外英語合肥G381中學外語教與學NEAL HIRSCHFELD20022002鄭紅This Boy's LifeTim Barrows's promise meant a second chance for dozens of strangers 作者：海外英語合肥G381中學外語教與學NEAL HIRSCHFELD20022002
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