In recognition of Donate Life month, the Emory Transplant Center was honored to have a very special speaker share an extraordinary story – one that touches the very heart of what it means to give the gift of life even in times of heartbreak.
Scott Haggard shared with Emory physicians and staff the story of his sister, Terri Haggard Wade – a loving 48 year old wife, mother, sister and daughter – who spent her professional career as a nurse. And as part of the medical profession, Terri knew the importance of organ donation. As a matter of fact, when her son was learning to drive, Terri said that before he could drive on his own, he would need to register to become an organ donor.
It was March of 2009 when Terri was rear ended in an automobile accident. She began to experience headaches, and when they continued after a few weeks, Terri decided to go to an urgent care center to be evaluated. The urgent care center sent her to a nearby hospital to have a CT scan of her head. And that was when they discovered Terri had a brain tumor.
On April 15, 2009, Terri had surgery to remove her tumor. The surgery was more complicated than anticipated, and Terri did not wake up immediately after the surgery. After ten days, Terri still had not awakened and her intracranial pressure spiked to very high levels, causing brain death.
At this time, Terri’s medical team approached her family asking them to make a very difficult decision. They had to decide whether or not to allow Terri’s organs to be donated – they knew she wasn’t really with them anymore.
“We were never going to have Terri,” said Scott, “but to have her be able to help others, even in death, meant everything to us”.
To honor Terri’s wishes, her organs were donated, saving lives as she had done so many times before as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Egleston. Terri was very loved among many – over 700 people were present at her funeral.
Although Scott knows that the individuals who received his sister’s organ are grateful for their gift of life, he says “It also means a lot to us, the donor family, to know that Terri is able to live through others”.