“My mom wanted to do good things and leave a mark on the world — who could have imagined that this was going to be the way.”
– Tina Gaither
Tina Gaither likes talking about her mom.
Donné Mills, Tina will tell you, was an avid reader, followed current events and taught her grandchildren Black history. She was a stroke survivor who spent the last two years of her life caring for her brother who has a disability. Donné also supported organ donation, and Tina remembers vividly the first time they talked about it.
“About the time I got my driver’s license, she talked to me about being an organ donor. She made a point to discuss it with me several times; it was very important to her.”
When Donné died suddenly in late June of this year, Tina didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. She did, however, find healing through her mom’s organ donation. Donné’s kidneys, lungs and liver saved the lives of four people. And while Tina and her four children miss their mom and grandma every day, Tina takes comfort in knowing her mom lives on through others.
“It’s hard to be sad about losing a loved one when you know they’ve given this gift to someone else,” Tina says. “The fact that she was able to extend the lives of four people is just amazing.”
Tina is hopeful she’ll be able to correspond with or meet the recipients someday. From information provided to the family shortly after the donation, Tina knows all four recipients are women and are around the same age as her mom.
“It touches me that they are all women, and they’re all in my mom’s peer group,” she says.
Continuing what Donné started when her daughter was just a teenager, Tina intends to help educate others about organ donation. Earlier this summer, she shared her mom’s story with the IndyStar for a series on donation.
“This is something my mom would have been really excited to be a part of — with the impact of her gift, even now, she’s still an amazing advocate for organ donation.”