Two people's lives were saved via transplants of organs donated from the late 3-year-old son of country singer Granger Smith.
Last month, the musician and wife Amber Smith's youngest of their three children and second son, River Kelly Smith, died in a drowning accident in their pool at the family's Texas home. Granger said his organs would be donated.
"We got the letter that our tiny, red-headed hero gave life to 2 adults," Amber wrote on Instagram on Saturday. "A 49-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man. I cried when we opened it. Cried out of sadness & cried out of love."
"I've always known I wanted to be a donor if anything were to ever happen to me," she wrote. "I just felt that if I had viable organs, why would I go into the ground with them? My spirit would be in Heaven, so why not save a life if I could? Never in a million years did I think I would be making that decision for my baby. When 3 different neuro specialists told us that River had 0% chance of brain recovery (yes 0, not 10 or 1%, 0) after shock and reality set in, I thought, how can we bury our sweet baby and not try to help others? His body is perfect, his organs are perfect, we had to do something."
According to organdonor.gov, there were 877 pediatric organ donors in 2018. Most were between ages 11 to 17, and 106 were babies under the age of 12 months.
"There are so many people waiting for an organ to save their lives," Amber wrote. "The doctors said donation was quite a process. We would have to search for viable recipients and it could take days. We knew River's spirit was in Heaven, but we couldn't bear to watch his tiny, earthly body be pumped full of all the medicines for 3 or more more days while they searched. They tried to expedite the process so our family could be in peace, told us they would take him back to operate the next morning, but we wouldn't know what organs could be used until after. With such a small body, organs had to be measured physically, not just by X-ray."
Amber said she spent the night laying in bed with her son, and crying and talking to him while the medical staff ran tests.
"The next morning family and staff lined the hall for the 'walk of honor,'" she wrote. "We told them River liked to go fast, so to honor him, they pushed him down that hall faster than they had ever pushed anyone. Granger and I held each other and cried.
"I'm so proud to be River's mama and I'm so grateful to God that he gave him to us for those incredible 3 years," she wrote. "I pray these 2 recipients live healthy, joy filled, full throttle lives just like Riv. It was one of the hardest, yet easiest, decisions we've ever made. There are over 113,000 people waiting for transplants & 20 people die each day waiting. Go to OrganDonor.gov to see how you can help give life as well. ❤️"