“It would make Tristan happy to know that because of her, people are living their lives and enjoying life to the fullest.”
Tammy Hackman and her daughter had never talked about organ donation, yet when Tristan Hackman died at the age of 28 in 2015, Tammy just had a feeling it was something she would have wanted.
“We weren’t really sure whether she wanted to donate, but all of the conversation around donation was so positive that day, we felt at ease knowing we – and Tristan – were doing something to help someone else.”
Tristan’s heart, kidneys, liver and lungs were donated to people in need of lifesaving organ transplants. Last fall the Hackmans sent letters anonymously through Indiana Donor Network to the recipients. So far, one man – who received both of Tristan’s lungs – wrote back.
“We received his letter the day after Thanksgiving, and that meant a lot,” Tammy says. “We learned that before the transplant, he had really been struggling and was on oxygen 24/7. Today, he’s received a good bill of health, is off oxygen and is traveling and doing lots of things. It’s very gratifying.”
Tammy and her husband, Bret, are raising Tristan’s eight-year-old son, Bryce. A straight-A student like his mom, Bryce is doing well, Tammy says, and enjoys playing baseball and swimming – a sport his mom excelled at as a member of the North Central High School and Riviera Club swim teams.
“Tristan was a giving person all of her life, and she loved to help people.,” says Tammy. “I know she’d be pleased to know that others have the opportunity to explore life even more.”
Today, Tammy finds meaning serving as an Indiana Donor Network advocate. She’s attended the organization’s golf outing and other events and frequently spends time in the office assembling information packets. Helping to raise awareness of donation is one reason Tammy volunteers her time.
“If people are unsure about being a donor, come in and learn more about it,” Tammy says. “Talk to someone – a recipient or a donor family; it’s worth it, it really is.”