Drunk driving victim saves 4 lives through organ donation - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Drunk driving victim saves 4 lives through organ donation

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A local organ donor will be featured on the 2016 Rose Bowl Parade Float on New Year's Day.
 
The Chattanooga man who died in 2011 was honored Monday for his gift - that allowed 4 other people live.

July 31, 2011, Kevin Daniel "Sunshine" Yates had just gotten off work. He was on his way home when Latisha Stevens hit him head on. Stevens was drinking and driving, traveling north in the southbound lane divided by a concrete-barrier. Kevin died 31 hours later. 

"I took the life of Kevin Yates because I chose to drink and drive," said Latisha Stevens. 

Stevens now works to convince others not to drink and drive. She talks with students about the deadly consequences with Kevin's mother, Tiki Finlayson by her side. It hasn't been easy to find forgiveness, but together they have a message.

"Your choices matter and when you make the choice to get behind the wheel to drink and drive it's not just your life that can be impacted... it's countless number of lives impacted by that one choice," said  Tiki Finlayson, Kevin's mother. 

Today, it's not about what was taken, but what was given. Monday, a room filled with friends, family and all of the doctors and nurses who played a part in Kevin's treatment. 
Kevin 's organs were donated to give life to others. His liver, kidney pancreas and heart---saved 4 lives. 

 "I'm here, look at me right now," said Melvin Ellis. "I'm here because Kevin made the choice of becoming a donor."

Melvin Ellis has Kevin's heart. This father of 4 works as a full time pastor in Memphis. He's grown very close to the Yates family and says their bond is as strong as his beating heart 

"Melvin allowed us to have a stethoscope to hear Kevin's heart beat again, that was just the most amazing moment," said Tiki Finlayson. "I had never been more proud of Kevin than I was in that moment... to know that he had given Melvin life because he was very very sick."

"We are family and I thank God for meeting them," said Melvin Ellis. 

Together they put the finishing touches on Kevin's floral portrait, he will represent Tennessee on Donate Life's 2016 Rose Parade Float --New Years Day. 
Reminding others the gift of life is the greatest gift of all.

"Thank you, that's the only thing I could tell him is thank you for being my superhero because you saved my life," said Ellis.  
  
"He is still living on and in April his heart will be 30, so I'm going to tell Melvin happy 30th," said Finlayson. 

In memory of Kevin, his mother and brother co-founded the non-profit, 1N3. The name comes from what was the current statistic in 2011: "one in three of us are impacted by drunk driving.' They share Kevin's story in hopes to change lives. Kevin's family chose to forgive the drunk driver who took his life. She has served her time in prison and is now a spokesperson for 1N3. for more information about 1N3, visit www.iam1n3.org 

One person can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and touch up to 50 more through tissue donation. 

For more information about becoming an organ donor click here
 

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