POPE COUNTY, Ark. – It’s not only Valentine’s Day on February 14. It’s also National Donor Day. There are over 100 thousand people waiting for an organ in the United States, including about 300 in Arkansas.
For Jeri’ Williams and her household losing one family member allowed them to gain even more loved ones.
Jeri’ Williams’ son Trenton Williams died suddenly in 2012 at a pool party, and she didn’t have long to decide if she was going to honor her son’s wishes on his driver’s license to be an organ donor. She let go of him then and says it’s been the greatest gift to her and the people who received his kidney, liver, and heart.
“Everything he did, he did with purpose,” Willaims explained.
Williams said her son put his whole heart into everything, even building a house at only 24 years old. She said everything he touched was built to last, and that’s no different in death because he decided to be an organ donor.
“The only thing that I asked was, ‘Lord please let someone worthy of his organs and that would live life to the fullest receive this gift of life,” Williams stated.
Williams said that prayer was answered.
Ken Howard was in his 50s when received Trenton’s liver after waiting for a donor for 2 years, about as long as doctors expected him to survive. Within the first month of his recovery, he and Jeri Williams connected.
“I’ve got to take great care of it because of them,” Howard said of Trenton’s family. “They’re more than just friends their family.”
Howard said because of the extra ten years he’s had since the transplant he’s gotten to see three grandchildren be born and begin to grow. Six years ago, he achieved the rank of police chief in the town of Cedarville, Arkansas.
“Trent has done a lot in these past 10 years. Yes, he’s left this earth 10 years ago. He’s still here alive and well,” Williams said.
Trenton’s family also met his kidney recipient who got many more years to his life before passing. But Willaims said they haven’t met who has Trenton’s heart, though they know the joy they receive isn’t why he gave.
“It is Valentine’s Day and it’s all love. That’s all it is love,” Williams said. “You can see what happens because of that love. People get to live another day,”
Since Trenton’s death, his mom founded a London, Arkansas-based nonprofit called Trenton’s Legacy. They are a support group for donor families and recipients.
According to the group, every organ donor, 60 percent of Arkansans, are registered organ donors. Nationally, 17 people on average die each day waiting for an organ transplant.