Organ donor families learning a new way to love on Valentine's Day
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Valentine's Day is an occasion to celebrate love and bring people together, and for families affected by organ donation, it means learning to love in a new way.
Valentine's Day is also National Donor Day.
The day takes on a new meaning for families of organ donation.
One local mother tells us after her son was killed by a drunk driver, his heart went on to keep loving others.
On a day where hearts and roses are on everyone's mind, it reminds Tiki Finlayson of her son, Kevin.
"Every time I see a heart any day I think of Melvin and the gift that Kevin gave and it's just so special," Finlayson said.
Kevin Yates was killed by a drunk driver in 2011, when he was just 25 years old.
Kevin once told his mother he thought organ donors were superheros --so she made the choice for him.
Kevin went on to save four lives.
His liver went to a 72-year old man, his right kidney went to a 48-year old, his left kidney and pancreas went to a 49-year old woman, and Kevin's heart went to Melvin Ellis.
"We got to meet Melvin, his heart recipient, 11 months after Kevin died, and he let us have a stethoscope and let us hear his heart beat again. And I had never been more proud of Kevin than I was at that moment," Finlayson said.
Channel 3 met Melvin in 2015, years after his transplant. He was healthy, happy, and grateful.
"I'm here, look at me right now, I'm here because Kevin made the choice of becoming a donor," Ellis said.
As Valentine's Day comes and goes, Kevin's heart keeps on beating, and his mother can continue to hear it.
"There's really just not words to explain that feeling of hearing Kevin's heartbeat inside this man who otherwise would have died," Finlayson said.
If you are interested in becoming an organ donor all you have to do is check "yes" on your driver's license, or sign up online and choose which organs you'd like to donate.
For more information on how to become a donor, and to learn more about Kevin's story, click here.