Jennifer Lynn Gerber
She looked as though she was sleeping. When the realization of the words “severe head injury, brain death and there is no hope” were finally accepted, my thoughts were there is something more. Whether it was Jenni’s spirit or a whisper from God, it was then that the decision of organ donation was made. The decision was not difficult or complicated. It was the letting go of our daughter and only child that was so painful.
Jenni’s accident occurred in Windsor, Canada. She was transported to Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan where we were met by a team of donor coordinators who guided us through procedures. Our family was called, we waited through the medical protocols, when all was final we said our good-byes.
I had one request upon leaving the hospital that day. I asked that we be notified the instant Jenni’s heart would be placed. I needed to know that she lived on and all was successful. I received that call from a nurse who had the most beautiful and comforting voice. She was there through the entire procedure and reassured me that all went well. I remember her telling me it was the most beautiful experience to watch one life given to another and to see the first heart beat from one human being to another.
Jenni was able to provide six people with a better quality or second chance of life through her gifts of heart, kidneys, liver and corneas. Her memory lives on. Jenni managed to cram a lot of living in her 27 years. She loved to dance, studied karate and enjoyed bicycling. She was a frequent blood donor and walked for Jerry’s kids. Yes, she was very energetic and outgoing. She loved to help people and never forgot a face or a name.
I am very happy to say that we have corresponded with both of Jenni’s kidney recipients. We know that her corneas are with two young women in Venice, Italy (what a beautiful place to see). The most wonderful events took place during a donor recognition ceremony at which I spoke. I was engaged in conversation with a donor coordinator, whom I would meet briefly now and again and exchange pleasantries and somehow felt she was someone special. This night, we were having an extensive conversation about my story. Low and behold this coordinator, this nurse, was the nurse with the beautiful voice who was there the night of the transplant. The next exciting event was receiving a letter from Jenni’s heart recipient. This was the day we were so waiting for. We have agreed to meet. So, very soon we will be able to hug our recipient and feel Jennni’s heartbeat again.
With the events that have happened and how our lives have changed since Jenni’s death on November 8, 1998 we know that Jenni’s spirit is with us, working her own magic. We love and miss her every day. But we know that the families of the six people whose lives she has enriched also think of her every day and through them her memory lives on. Donation was the right thing to do.
Barbara Gerber, Jenni’s Mother