Mascot's organs used to save lives

January 31, 2008 5:44:52 PM PST
Nearly one year after his death, the story of UNC's beloved mascot, who was killed in after being hit by a car, is getting national attention.

Not only did Jason's organs save several lives, but his decision to be a donor inspired others to do the same.

Thursday those affected by his incredible gift shared their emotional stories on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Charlotte Ray, Jason's mother, shared the conversation she and her son had when he told her he was an organ donor.

"I was sitting at the kitchen table and he had that funny little smile on his face and he flipped his driver's license down and said, 'Mother, look at this, I'm going to be a donor' and that's when I said, 'Oh Jason, we come with these little parts, maybe we should leave with these little parts. have you thought about that?'"

It's not an easy conversation to have, but Jason made sure his mom knew he wanted to be an organ donor.

In March 2007, he became a donor.

The basketball mascot for the Carolina Tar Heels was walking on the side of a busy New Jersey highway, getting food before a game, when he was struck by a SUV.

Three days later he died, but his organs were about to live on in others.

The three men who received Jason's heart, kidneys and pancreas appeared on the Oprah Show to thank Jason's parents.

"I'm thrilled and delighted to be a part of Jason's legacy,and I'm a testimony to God's Mercy and God's Grace," organ recipient Ronald Griffin said.

Also on the show was the family of a man who'd seen Jason's story and was inspired to become an organ donor -- just two weeks before his own sudden death.

David Wilhower told his brother about Jason and encouraged him to become an organ donor. His brother died suddenly two weeks later, but he had arranged to be a donor.

"Giving the gift of life is such a great thing, it's an inspiration to everybody and what you do on earth can live forever," Wilhower said.

There are about 100,000 Americans who need organ transplants in the U.S. alone. Only 30,000 people sign up each year to be donors.

And it's important to note even if your driver's license indicates you're a donor, you must still talk to loved ones about your decision so they know your intentions.


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