In July 2007, Catherine’s life changed forever when she received a call from the trauma center at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs. Her husband Brad had been in a motorcycle accident on his way to work. The nurse assured her that even though the accident was serious, Brad was talking and responsive and that he would be fine.
Catherine quickly called her mother to come watch her children—three under the age of five—and rushed to the hospital to see Brad. Even though his injuries looked serious, Catherine and her father were told that he had just dislocated his knee and broken a few ribs. Everyone in the room commented on how fortunate it was that he was wearing a helmet.
A short time later Brad was checked into a regular room.
“He seemed tired, which I could understand given all that he had been through,” Catherine said. “He fell into what looked like a restless sleep, and after a while a nurse came back to take him for more tests. At this point Brad was pretty unresponsive but we all thought he was just tired and medicated.”
After what seemed like forever, the doctors told them that Brad had suffered a stroke and was being admitted to the ICU. If he recovered, he would likely be paralyzed on one side. The next morning, after a CT, the doctors told Catherine that Brad’s brain was swelling and that he would not survive.
“Amazingly, the worst day of my life was also the day that many people had been waiting for. The decision to give a better quality of life to another was not something I had to think twice about. Brad had decided long before to be a donor and had indicated it on his driver’s license. Besides that, my husband was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met—to let his organs go to waste when they could save someone else would have been yet another tragedy,” Catherine says.
Even through her grief, knowing that others are living healthy, productive lives because of Brad is a huge source of comfort to Catherine. She knows that, in Colorado, there is a father in his thirties who has a chance to see his kids grow up because of Brad’s heart.
“The Christmas following Brad’s death I received a card from his liver recipient thanking me for another holiday with his family. Between his organs, eyes, and tissue it is likely that my husband helped more people than I will ever know.”
Catherine participates in the Donor Dash every year, amazed to think that someone could be racing beside her because of her husband’s gift.