Connor Marvin, center, with parents Walter "Smitty" Marvin and Darlene Mitchell.
The speculation around where Connor Marvin’s new heart came from started in nearly the same breath as the good news that he was in line for the transplant rippled through his friends and family.
Marvin, who received a heart transplant in the early morning hours of March 1, also had heard the speculation at Children’s Hospital of Boston.
“Oh yeah, it is something that has even been talked about around the floor,” he said, somberly.
On Feb. 27, a little more than three days before the transplant, a shooting spree at a Chardon, Ohio High School resulted in the loss of three lives, including two who had either made the decision themselves or through their families to donate organs.
According to an article posted on the website cleveland.com, the donations were made Feb. 28, less than 42 hours before Marvin’s surgery.
“He was so full of life and we are honoring his wishes to help others by donating his organs,” a statement from the family of 17-year old victim Russell King, Jr., said.
A second victim, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, was an organ donor through his drivers license.
“The timing was more than ironic, yet no one really knows,” Connor’s father, Walter “Smitty” Marvin said. “Someday, we may know and find out that they were connected, but that’s another story for another day.”
Instead, what Connor’s family was focused on this day was the fact that someone had made a heartfelt decision during a time of grief that was life-saving for others.
“It’s big to know that the family made this choice to donate in such a tragic time,” Connor said. “They were able to stop and realize that you can save the lives of eight people through organ donation and help up to 50 through tissue donations. We are grateful for that.”
“My heart goes out to those families,” Connor’s mother, Darlene Mitchell said. “It’s hard, because I am glad that I got to see him healthy again, but you know what the other family is going through.”
“We are grateful that there were two families that were able to find it within their hearts to make this decision,” Smitty said.
Smitty said he had talked about organ donation and the circumstances surrounding it a number of times with both Connor and his brother, Brock, who was also the recipient of a heart transplant Dec. 11, 2010.
“Both boys had issues with this - that another child would have to die in order for them to receive a new heart,” Smitty said. “We talked about the fact that no matter what, things were going to happen to people, and that our hope was there would be a family out there that would make the choice to help others.”
“You never hope for the result, but you hope for the decision,” Connor said.
The family said they would like to someday be able to meet the families of both donors, and said they had already sent letters to Brock’s.
“I wrote a letter and Brock wrote a letter to the family,” Smitty said. “Those letters were given to a social worker here who then forwarded them to the national data base and to the hospital where the donation was made. A social worker from there could then look up who made the donation and ask the family if they would like to receive the letter.”
“All that we know is that the letters got to the hospital where the donation was made,” he added. “We do not know if the family received them or not.”
“I would just love to be able to say thank you to both of these families that helped my boys,” Mitchell said.
For more information about organ donation, visit the website organdonor.gov.