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  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."
  早在1998年的夏天,巴羅斯,這位IBM公司的高級職員和他的妻子就知道蒂姆決定成為器官捐獻者。
  一天下午,蒂姆激動地沖進羅利的家中,手里揮動著他剛剛收到的初學者許可證.然后把這張珍貴的卡片遞給他的爸爸。
  約翰仔細端詳著兒子的相片,他看起來像個小詹姆斯·笛安,連同酷酷的傻笑。當他移開拇指時,才找到位于右下角的小小紅心,他立刻就明白那意味著什么。約翰曾經當過美國陸軍中尉,是一個得到過高級勛章的越南戰場上的老兵,他當然也知道人的軀體在遭受兇死或外傷后會是什么樣子。他的眼睛在這顆心上凝視了許久。后來他的眼睛就鎖定在兒子身上。
  “你有沒有仔細想過?這確實是你真正想做的嗎?”
  “是的,爸爸,這確實是我想做的事。”
  約翰·巴羅斯擁抱著兒子。“我愛你,”他對他說。
  約翰和謝里爾被兒子的勇氣和慷慨深深地感動了。那時他們不愿談論他的諾言是否會有兌現的可能性。
  后來,還沒有過3個月,不可想象的事就發生了。
  在1998年萬圣節夜里,當蒂姆坐在他的16歲朋友思科特·米勒駕駛的雪佛萊車上時,他們的車被一輛時速超過70英里的卡車擠到了邊上。卡車司機,25歲的奧斯卡·梅倫德斯是酒后駕駛,他血液里的酒精含量超過法定限制將近2倍。
  2個男孩的腦部都受到了重創。梅倫德斯臀部受傷,他被判犯有酒后駕駛、侵犯人身和詐騙等罪行。
  那天深夜,約翰和謝里爾被召喚到韋克邁德醫院,他們聽到了殘酷的消息:他們的兒子預計活不了15個小時了。他的朋友,也命在旦夕。
  他們承受著巨大的悲痛。當兩個孩子悄然離去的時候,話語顯得徒勞無益;約翰和謝里爾所能做的就是互相緊緊地擁在一起。他們麻木地站在一邊,一位年長的天主教牧師給蒂姆施了最后一次禮。
  最后,約翰和謝里爾把另外3個兒子和他們的侄子思科特·佩廷吉爾召集到特別醫療單位的外面,提醒他們蒂姆想成為器官捐獻者的愿望。他們在一起討論,問了些問題,試圖理解這個愿望此刻意味著什么。但有一點是肯定的:他們會實現蒂姆的愿望的。
  去年初春,當巴羅斯一家走進那間羅利會議室時,休伊·拉姆利并不是惟一到場的器官接受者。多虧了這家當地器官征購組織——卜羅來納捐獻機構,其他許多人也已被找到并受到邀請。
  博比·韋斯特,43歲,一個來自于北卡羅來納州落基山城的高個子、長著山羊胡須的建筑工人,向人們訴說他絕望的等待了2年半的肝臟移植。他患有C型肝炎,黃疸病使得他面色發黃,一天要吃20多顆不同的藥片。韋斯特病得厲害,幾乎連床都下不了。醫生們認為,他的病是被他25年前刻入左臂的文身感染所至,他是受了戰友的挑釁后刺的文身。
  一根血管爆裂后,韋斯特開始吐血,他猜想他的日子不多了。可后來,1998年11月,在杜克大學醫療中心做的一次長達6小時的手術中,他換上了蒂姆的肝臟。
  現在,2年多過去了,韋斯特快速恢復,甚至能打軟式壘球和高爾夫。“嘿,我們打算晚些時候去釣鱸魚,”他對房間里的其他人說,一邊對十幾歲的女兒打手勢示意。
  并不是所有的器官接受者都來到了羅利。維加爾·尼斯,65歲,以前是伊利諾州倫巴底的焊接技術監督員,他接受了蒂姆的另一個腎。他對于自己未能及時知道這次聚會來安排旅行而沮喪萬分。
  在2天前的一次電話中,尼斯說,與冠心病和循環系統疾病做斗爭是多么的艱巨,他需要做體外循環心臟手術,并輸了70次血。他越來越虛弱,不得不在1990年的受難節那天停止工作。“在我得到蒂姆的腎的時候,”他對約翰·巴羅斯說道,“我甚至連割草機的起動器都拉不上。疼得太厲害了。”但現在,尼斯又開始修理草地,用除雪機吹雪……做了這么多的事,他感到自己是個有活力,有用的人。“我簡直無法用語言表達找回力量后的那種感覺,覺得自己又回到了35歲。
  介紹結束后,約翰和謝里爾讓所有的器官接受者和他們的家人坐下。當2人開始說話時,房間靜了下來。
  約翰·巴羅斯首先說到了他們在1999年7月與奧斯卡·梅倫德斯在法庭上的令人傷感的會面。梅倫德斯就是撞死了蒂姆和他的伙伴的司機。梅倫德斯對于2項二級謀殺罪名表示服判,希望去法庭給予寬大處理。但是,法官還是判了他31年零6個月至39年的監禁。
  他們談到了全國其他76,000名仍在等候器官移植的患者。談到了為何只有三分之一病得非常厲害的患者可能會圓了他們的夢,而另三分之一的人將在等候中死去,因為器官捐獻者奇缺。
  但約翰和謝里爾談得最多的還是蒂姆。蒂姆是他們4個兒子中最年幼,也是長得最小的兒子,他生前是個判逆者,也是個好逗樂的人。蒂姆這孩子從不胡吹亂侃,他似乎有成千上萬的好朋友。
  “今天以前,我是多么希望你們都知道蒂姆,”約翰·巴羅斯對大家說道,“現在,你們都認識了他。”
  “兒子的死是個悲劇,”謝里爾說道。“但是,他幫助了這么多的人,這讓我們感到驕傲。我們希望你們今天快樂地離開這兒。我們的兒子也希望你們快樂。”
  在約翰和謝里爾說話的時候,他們傳閱著蒂姆的初學者許可證。人們在卡片的正面上看到的是蒂姆頑皮的笑臉。當然,還有那顆如此深刻地改變了他們命運的小小紅心。
  當卡片從一個人傳到另一個人時,房間里變得肅靜起來。博比·韋斯特拿了一塊手帕,把臉埋在了雙手間。當卡片傳到蒂姆的哥肖恩手中的時候.他流下了淚水。突然韋斯特站起來,繞過桌子,跪倒在肖恩的身邊。然后他用雙臂擁著肖恩的肩膀,和他一同哭了起來。
  最后,蒂姆·巴羅斯的“生命之禮”被證明是一件異常慷慨的禮物。
  除了主要器官——心臟、一個肺葉,肝臟以及兩只腎以外,蒂姆的眼角膜給了新澤西州一位42歲的男性和羅利市一位24歲的婦女。從他的身體上取下了總共319片組織移植片分配給了全國各地的患者,至少有100名患者已經接受了移植片。這些移植片上的骨頭和組織用在了來自6個不同州的19名做整形手術的患者身上,并準備用于在另外的至少12個州進行的牙科手術上。
  在這些了不起的數目之后是數十個從此被改變了的生命個體。而聚集在羅利對蒂姆留下的救命的遺產表示敬意的那些人獲得的幫助最大。
  最后,喬舒亞·奈特的父親布賴恩做了最好的總結:“英語語言中找不到合適的字眼來表達我們感受。‘謝謝’這兩個字是不夠的。它比‘謝謝’表達的容量更大……大得多。我們每一個人都感受到了。”
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
2013-09-10 21:46

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