Monday, July 9, 2007

Organ donation unites two hurting Utah families (Standard Examiner - July 9)

Organ donation unites two hurting Utah families

Huntsville father, Sandy mother find peace in meeting

By Di Lewis
Standard-Examiner staff

SALT LAKE CITY — For a man struggling to find meaning after tragedy and for a mother trying to reconcile joy with sadness, a chance meeting in a hospital cafeteria provided the comfort each needed.

Sandy resident Melissa Moss and her mother were getting breakfast June 30 at Primary Children’s Medical Center after getting an early phone call saying the hospital had a liver available for Moss’s 4-month-old son, Nathan Pearson.

Ben Howard, 40, and his sister, Nellene Howard, made their way to the cafeteria after saying goodbye to Ben’s daughter Esther Howard. Esther, 8, had been taken off life support that morning after injuries she received in a June 28 car accident that also killed her mother Janine, 39, and brother Matthew, 11.

As the families began talking, Moss told the Howards that a donor had just been found for her son.

“He just burst into tears, saying, ‘We just donated my daughter’s liver last night,’ ” Moss said.

While the two later found out that Esther Howard’s liver had not gone to Nathan, her donation did go to a California girl who would have received the liver Nathan got.

Moss said her son was born with a genetic problem that causes liver disease. He had already been in the hospital for more than a month, and doctors were concerned he would die if he did not receive a transplant soon.

If Esther’s liver had not made available the liver Nathan received, Moss said, she is not sure her son would have made it until another organ became available.

“That’s been a hard thing for us,” she said. “How do you hope he gets a liver when you know what has to happen? …You don’t want to wish that on anyone.”

Moss said meeting Howard and talking to him about his sacrifice has helped her to deal with the guilt and sadness she had knowing someone had to die so her son could live.

It is important to see the positive outcome of organ donation, Moss said.

“It’s hard to know on the giving end of it (organ donation) that there is a greater part,” Moss said, “but it helps people live and … can bring peace if you do happen to lose someone.”

Ben and Janine Howard made the decision to donate organs after a conversation following the movie “Return to Me,” said Ashley Stolworthy, family spokeswoman. That decision was reaffirmed by meeting Moss.

There is a reason she and Howard met, Moss said. It provided comfort to both of them in a time Moss called “an emotional roller coaster.”

Nathan began his nearly eight-hour surgery at 6 p.m. June 30. Moss said he is doing better than doctors expected. Howard visited her son after his surgery, and Moss said she plans to keep in touch with him.

One of the best things to come out of their meeting is the understanding that the loss of a loved one can be connected to saving other peoples’ lives, Moss said.

“We are deeply grateful to Ben and his family for the rest of our lives. I just think he’s an awesome man,” she said.

“That (our meeting) has helped bring peace to both sides.”


Anonymous said...

How is Caleb doing?

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how a there can be such a circle that exists of such sadness and happiness. Even more that in the middle of that circle is peace for all those involved. I knew the Howards when they went to the Hurst 1st Ward. I can remember Janine's beautiful voice singing our hymns and Ben face red and beads of sweat running down it after he ate the second most jalepenos at our chili cook off. I have been following this story since the announcement at the ward. I have not known what to say but, after reading this article I just want to say that the God's plan is unique one and ask we all ask why the answers await on the otherside and will be made clear. they have completed what was expected of them and are needed on the other side for a greater service, a greater part of God's plan. How I wish them all love and I wish all who are left with us here a prayer of comfort and of a lifted spirit. Howard family we wish you all the love and hope in the future,
The Clayton Family,
Trevor, Amber, and children Braceon, Justin, Koby, and Kahner

The St.George's said...

Ben (and Rachel):
You both have been in our thoughts and prayers as well as Caleb. We have had your names in the Dallas Temple since we heard the news from the Hubers. (I'm sure your names are on the alters of MANY temples throughout the world.)

Now that the funeral is over, the hard part begins. Ben, we know your energy is with Caleb right now, as it should be -- but don't forget to give Rachel some quality time. She is suffering in ways you cannot know. After our son was killed, we thought we understood and were dealing with our daughter's feelings -- but we weren't. She was putting on a "good front" for us, but was suffering greatly on the inside. It came to a head 10 YEARS later when she had a nervous breakdown. If only we had realized and dealt differently with her grief.

Ben, the shock is still with you. You are working on auto-pilot. This we know from experience. The coming days, as the shock wears off and true reality sets in will be difficult. May we remind you to stay close to your Heavenly Father. May we tell you to NOT try and handle everything yourself. Let your family and friends help. There will be so many hard days ahead -- birthdays, holidays, and more.

We are thinking about you, and hope our limited wisdom after walking a little in your shoes (having lost 3 of our 4 children), might be of some help.

Please feel free to contact us if you'd like. Our email is

Our thoughts and prayers, again, are with you and your family.

The St.George Family

Brittany said...

My son was in the PICU with your children and I remember seeing your son being wheeled back to his ICU area. I remember wondering what had happened and if he was alright. I was so worried about my 14 month old son that I did not stop to talk with anyone else in the waiting room. I am so sorry for your loss. You seemed to have quite a large support group. Please know that my husband, myself and our three children have now been added to your support group. Our son was released Friday and is doing well. Your son, in time, will also be released from the hospital and doing well. I am glad that your daughter is home and pray for your family and for your loss. Please know you are in my thoughts and in my prayers. God be with you and your family at this time.

Faith said...

You're all still very much in the forefront of our minds. I check here daily for news, and we're keeping you in our prayers and on the prayer roll at the temple. Much love,

Joe & Faith

Shauntae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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