Monday, April 15, 2019

When Tragedy Gives Life

UMC issued the following press release written by Ruth Cummins.

Her son, Robin Rhodes said, was a good ole’ country boy and fisherman with a big heart.

So when Randy Rhodes died tragically after an October 2014 auto accident, she knew what she needed to do.

“The choice we made when we chose to donate his organs was something he would have done,” said Rhodes, a Laurel resident. “He would have given anyone the shirt off his back. He was a giver.”

Randy’s heart, liver, lungs and kidneys gave new life to recipients in Mississippi and beyond the state’s borders. Those gifts were facilitated by the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency, the federally designated organ and tissue procurement organization for most of the state that carries out legwork required to pair matching recipients to organs as they become available.

Both organ recipients and the families of donors were honored April 12 at Legacy Day, an annual celebration hosted by MORA and the University of Mississippi Medical Center on the UMMC campus. Dozens of people converged to reminisce, share stories, greet UMMC transplant caregivers and enjoy a balloon release and other activities.

Immediately after her husband, Jackson Police Corporal Allen Harper, died in April 2017 in an on-the-job motorcycle accident, his wife at first hesitated to donate his organs and tissue. “I wanted to be selfish,” said Chequetta Harper.

“But he had always been a giver. How could I be so selfish to say no?” Harper told the crowd. “You need to put that little heart on your driver’s license. A few days ago, I renewed my license, and I said yes to that again. I wanted to make sure I’ll be a donor.”

Family members of donors “have experienced absolute tragedy, and they have the selflessness to make decisions that will save lives,” said Dr. Mark Earl, associate professor of surgery and a transplant surgeon. “They’re trying to make something good out of something that is so devastating.”

Transplant, Earl said, “offers the only, and most durable, treatment for organ failure. Recipients have the courage to face death and come out on the other side.”

When 20-year-old Randy died at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Rhodes said, things were in blur for her. “That’s just what happens when you get that call in the middle of the night,” she said. “But, it wasn’t a hard decision to donate his organs. That is what he would have wanted.”

Like many family members of organ donors and organ recipients, Rhodes wrote letters to the people who got her family member’s organs. MORA requires that both parties remain anonymous, so Rhodes didn’t know who she was writing to – but only that MORA would do its best to deliver the letters.

Unless both the donor family and their loved one’s organ recipient say they want to communicate, MORA keeps all information confidential.

“I wrote a generic letter to every recipient except the heart recipient,” Rhodes said. “I never got anything back, and I was at the point where I was about to give up. Then, I found out that there had been some miscommunication.”

A MORA employee called with the news: Randy’s liver recipient wanted to meet the family. “We communicated over the phone,” Rhodes said of Pearl resident Fleeta Hutchison.

The families met in Magee for lunch in spring 2018. “It was nice,” Rhodes said.

“I can’t imagine being in her shoes and being as strong as she is,” Hutchison said of Rhodes.

Rhodes especially wanted to meet a particular recipient of one of Randy’s organs. “Randy had a heart of gold. I wanted to reach out to the person who got his heart.”

She and her family in August 2018 met Kentucky resident and avid outdoorsman Jerry Leach. Rhodes got to listen to her son’s heart beating in Leach’s chest when the two families met up in Chattanooga. It wasn’t the first time she’d heard it.

“When we talked earlier, I asked them if they could record the heartbeat the next time they went to the doctor, and they said absolutely,” Rhodes said. “But his daughter that same day sent me a video and told me not to open it until I got home from work.

“She had recorded his heartbeat from a stethoscope. She said that we aren’t promised tomorrow, so we wanted to make sure you got this,” Rhodes said. She and Leach “have a bond that is unimaginable. It was a match made in heaven.”

You might say they’re a little bit biased, but both Rhodes and Hutchison encourage families, even in the worst moments of their lives, to consider giving the gift of life.

“He wasn’t using those organs,” Rhodes said. “He was already in heaven. For him to be able to help someone continue to live is just amazing.”


Anonymous said...

God bless these people.

Anonymous said...

I'm a organ donor, however, one of my organ is to small & rarely used and it keeps getting rejected..

Anonymous said...

Thank you. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Does UMC pay you to print their biweekly propaganda? You should put “advertisement “ with each of these stories.

Anonymous said...

what’s with the UMC haters? You’ve probably never needed a level 1 trauma center or Level 4 NICU. lucky you.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing, KF.

Anonymous said...

6:55 - You need to stop pulling on it. That won't help. Just buy another truck with bigger tires and accept your fate. If that doesn't help, get a tattoo and enroll in trooper school.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 8:57. Why so many endorsements for UMC? Shouldn't these be labeled advertisements?

Anonymous said...

8:57 and 10:39... UMMC does a lot of stupid things, and suffers from inefficiency like most other state institutions. But one of the shining lights coming from that facility in the past few years is Transplant. That department is not perfect, but they are positively changing lives every day. The surgical teams at this facility are top notch, and I would gladly trust them with my care if the need ever arose. This is simply a good reminder that we all need to consider organ donation, and it can be done in our own backyard, not just UAB.

Anonymous said...


Not certain if Baptist or St D does significant organ transplants but, hey, if you wanna go there or to some county med centers to get your transplants, have at it.

Anonymous said...

While Ms has some short comings, UMMC has an Outstanding Record related to Transplants. The last thing we can ever do for someone else after we meet our demise is Donate Organs. Mine will be donated as yours should be-after all we've died at this point. It takes a weak minded-short sighted person to see this differently-you're gonna look the same in the Casket. While some of us are Blessed with good Health-others aren't as fortunate and deserve to make the Best of a Bad situation.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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