Be a hero

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Organ donation takes a tragic situation and turns it into a miracle

By Stevie Lowery

Tyler Hamilton, 24, fought demons during his short life.
He suffered from bi-polar disorder and drug addiction, but he had a good heart, according to his parents.
In fact, it was his actual heart that saved the life of a teenage girl at Kosair Children’s Hospital last week.
Tyler was an organ donor, and after his sudden and tragic death Wednesday, July 29, his heart and both of his kidneys were donated to three Kentuckians who desperately needed the organs to survive.
Tyler’s last act on earth was one of kindness, selflessness and love. No matter what troubles he had in his life, his decision to become an organ donor and help save the lives of complete strangers makes him a hero.
And, it’s something that has made his grieving parents very proud.
“It’s been a comfort to us to know that even in death his spirit still lives on,” his mother, Carla Mudd Constant, said Friday afternoon. “He’s given life to several other people. It almost makes you think that was God’s plan for him all along.”
Tyler witnessed, firsthand, the gift of organ donation after the death of stepfather five years ago. His stepdad was an organ donor and, because of him, two women from Campbellsville regained their sight after receiving his corneas.
“Tyler was really close to his stepdad and he was so touched by it,” Carla said.
So, when Tyler’s driver’s license was no longer suspended and he was able to start driving again in 2011, he registered to be an organ donor.
“It makes me smile even more knowing that he did that on his own,” Carla said. “What an amazing gift that he gave.”
She said her son was a big-hearted person, and his decision to become an organ donor is an example of that fact.
“He had his demons that he fought, but he had love for everybody,” she said. “He wanted everybody around him to be happy and to enjoy life.”
Thanks to him, three people are enjoying life today.
Tyler’s father, Carlos, is who received the phone call from the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates Friday informing him that his son’s organs had been donated, including his son’s heart. He said he was overcome with pride.
“Tyler’s heart went to a teenage girl that possibly wouldn’t have made it through the weekend,” Carlos said. “I want people to know... Tyler’s decision to be an organ donor has been a blessing after such a tragedy.”
Carlos said he’s also very proud knowing that Tyler made the decision to be an organ donor on his own.
“It wasn’t a decision that we made. He made this decision on his own,” he said. “In a troubled young man’s life, it was great to know that he was thinking in the bigger picture. I’m very proud and heart broken at the same time.”
If we all were as big-hearted as Tyler more lives could be saved through organ donation. As of June of this year, 45 percent of Marion Countians - 6,717 people - are registered as organ donors. We should follow Tyler’s example and make that 100 percent.
I urge you to help us achieve that today. If you’re not currently a registered organ donor, go to www.donatelifeky.org and register. It’s a very fast, simple process. You can also register when you get or renew your driver’s license at the Marion Circuit Clerk’s Office.
Your spirit - your legacy - can live on through organ donation.
Be remembered for the life you gave, as well as the life you lived.
Be a hero. Be an organ donor.


Help promote organ donation
The Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life has a goal for the state’s registered organ donors to be above 50 percent before the end of 2015. “It’s a bold goal, but it’s possible,” said Shelley Heavrin Snyder, executive director, KY Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life. “And the more people who support this mission and join the registry – the more lives that will be saved.”
As of June of this year, 45 percent of Marion Countians - 6,717 people - are registered as organ donors. Marion County is ranked 52 out of 120 counties.
I know we can do better than this, which is why my friend Laura Bandy Abell and I are organizing a task force to make a change in Marion County and increase the number of registered organ donors in our community.
If you are interested in being a part of this task force, please contact me at The Lebanon Enterprise, or email me at editor@lebanonenterprise.com.