At around 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve day, Vivian Figueras Davis answered a phone call that no parent would ever want to receive. Kurt Hansen, her next-door neighbor and her son’s best friend, was on the line telling her that her son Michael had been in a car accident in South Dade County.
“I went into full panic mode,” said Mrs. Figueras Davis. “Hansen drove me to the scene, which was just 10 blocks from home. It was so scary.”
Michael Elvis Davis, 19, was declared brain dead four days later. Three years earlier, Michael had registered as an organ donor. The choice Michael made at the age of 16 was now becoming a reality.
Mrs. Figueras Davis knew of organ donation because her husband, Charles “Dave” Davis, died while on a waiting list for a liver transplant 10 years earlier.
In the United States over 100,000 men, women and children are on the waiting list for an organ transplant according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages organ transplants in this country.
Once Michael arrived at the hospital, Figueras Davis contacted the Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency, one of the nation’s 57 organ procurement organizations. Figueras Davis was assisted by two donor family advocates who guided her through the organ donation process as Michael’s organs were transplanted.
“I’ve developed a friendship with Vivian,” said Phillip Mellon, one of the advocates. “I remember going into the hospital on days that I was off so I could be there to take care of Michael, Vivian and her family.”
Six weeks after Michael Davis’s organs were transplanted to his recipients, Figueras Davis was assisted by aftercare coordinators from Life Alliance who helped her contact his organ recipients.
They provided her with a package consisting of letters with the age and gender of the people whose lives Michael had saved, as well as what organs they had received. Eight months later, Figueras Davis wrote letters sharing Michael’s life to the five recipients. Michael’s heart recipient responded right away.
“We are connected in ways that I never could have imagined,” said Figueras Davis. “Listening to Michael’s heart beating in his recipient’s chest was almost surreal.”
Mrs. Figueras Davis volunteers with Life Alliance as part of a group called HALO – Healing After Loss. She contacts donor families who have recently lost a loved one and offers them support and guidance.
Figueras Davis also founded the Miracle Mike Foundation, a nonprofit organization named after Michael.
The organization hosts back to school bookbag drives and Christmas toy drives which Figueras Davis organizes with her family and friends.
Figueras Davis acknowledges her family and friends, some of whom she met through her healing process, as the greatest blessings in her life.
“I’ve come to accept that it’s not going away, that the void in my life will never be filled,” said Mrs. Figueras Davis. “But life is still good and there are good people all around me.”