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Mom hopes son's story will inspire more people to become organ donors

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The Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency set a new record with 242 organ donors providing life-saving aid to 763 transplant recipients.

Despite the pandemic, things are looking up for organ donations. One mom, Melissa Jewell, is hoping the numbers continue to rise.

"I was speechless really," Jewell said. "Just being able to hear it beating inside someone else's chest. It was like I was hearing my son's heartbeat through someone else."

Jewell lost her son, 16-year-old Reese Gorman, in a car crash three years ago. He was a charismatic kid who loved to fish and give back. Before his tragic death, he learned the importance of organ donation at the DMV.

"We had a brief conversation about that and he said, 'Well if I am not going to make it I want someone else to live,'" Jewell said.

Reese Gorman's decision to become a donor saved four lives. One of them is Mark Smith. He received Reese's heart after needing a transplant. Now, he is more than just a recipient.

"It's another part of my family," Jewell said.

Concerns about COVID-19 led to a slowdown in donations. However, donations are back on the rise now that scientists know most organs, except for lungs, are safe from the disease.

"It showed me that this is important and this is a topic that we need to get serious about," said Jack Gorman, Reese's older brother. "Life is real beyond death and lives through my memories. And he lives through other people as well and that's so beautiful."

As for his mother, she keeps the memory of her son alive by wearing a necklace etched with his heartbeat. She will never stop echoing her son's name, making sure she tells his story to the world in the hopes more people will donate.

"I love to share my story because he was a true hero and he was able to save four people's lives," Jewell said. "And just being able to be in touch with Mark is just a miracle to me."

You can learn more about organ donations and how to become a donor by visiting LOPA's website.


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