Most folks featured in News 3 Neighbors are active members of the community who are making an effort to give back without a lot of fanfare. Today’s story actually dates back over 20 years to a gentleman who literally gave of himself through organ donation so that others might live.
The Christmas season is a time for giving. That was the spirit that overwhelmed those at Midtown Medical Center today. They gathered to remember Phenix City Police Officer Mike James during a special organ donor tribute.
Mike died from a brain aneurysm in 1993. He was an organ donor. His liver was given to then 13-year old Amy Tippins of Atlanta. Today Amy sat with Mike’s sister, Jo West, during this special ceremony.
In thinking back 20 years, Amy said, “I had two dozen tumors, one the size of a football, in my liver and I was hemorrhaging to death. I had been sick for five-and-a-half years.”
Amy says sometimes during the Christmas holidays the memories come rushing back. “Sometimes it affects me this time of year because I was actually told I would need a transplant the week of Christmas, so I’m very aware of that every year.”
She and Mike James are forever linked. “I think about him everyday. I have images of him. I actually carry an image of him in my phone.”
An image of Mike will be displayed on a float dedicated to organ donors during the upcoming Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California on New Year’s Day. Amy and Jo added the finishing touches to Mike’s floragraph today. It’s made of all natural materials as required by the parade regulations.
Amy will be one of 30 organ recipients riding on the float that day. She knows Mike will be on her mind. “I owe him my life,” she says. “I owe him my niece and nephew. I’m in the process of adopting. I owe him my child. I wouldn’t have gotten all of these memories. I owe him my house. I owe him my two businesses. I wouldn’t have had any of that without him. So I owe him everything.”
Today’s ceremony was sponsored by Midtown Medical Center and Lifelink of Georgia. Currently, 113,265 Americans are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. In Georgia, there are 3,488 people who need a transplant. Each day approximately eighteen to twenty people die waiting for a transplant.