February is special to our family. Not only do we celebrate Valentine's Day on the 14th but also National Heart Month, when health advocates aim to educate Americans about the prevalence and prevention of heart disease.
While many people are cutting out pink and red hearts to place on their windows and doors, or sending out Valentine letters filled with messages of love, many others are reflecting on the love that was shared with us through the miracle of organ donation and the second chance at life that came with it.
It is through organ donation that many families like ours are able to share another dinner, another laugh, another hug or kiss, with a loved one. For us, choosing to be a donor is the ultimate expression of love and compassion.
In May of 2011, our daughter MiaBella was a vibrant, healthy 11-year-old who was very active in sports and had just received her black belt in martial arts. Suddenly, she was struck with a disease called giant cell myocarditis. At the onset we thought she had the flu. On a Sunday morning at 9:15, her heart stopped.
Three days before, a beautiful 7-year-old boy named Mikey was involved in a tragic accident. Just weeks before, Mikey had told his mom that he wanted to be an organ donor. He had seen a school presentation about a little girl who had died waiting for a transplant. Thank god Mikey spoke up.
The story of this beautiful, kind, funny little boy could have ended there, but it didn't. Through his gift of love, and the miracle of organ donation, Mikey helped to save the lives of seven people. At the moment of their tragic loss, his broken-hearted mother and father made the brave decision to say "yes" to organ donation. And with this bold act of generosity, they provided a way for their son to live on, bringing them peace and comfort.
It is comforting to both of our families to know that our daughter, MiaBella, is the keeper of Mikey's heart. She takes excellent care of herself, is a thriving teenager, and hopes to receive at least one Valentine on Thursday.
This month, help our family spread awareness. Learn the truth about organ donation. Children and adults sit and wait on the organ transplant list for months, even years. Many pass away waiting. Yet, many people just never think about organ donation, and don't realize how much they can help.
Visit the website yesutah.org and learn the facts. The decision is honorable and noble and accepted by religious organizations all over the world.
Share our story. Spread the word. You can never know when, or if, you or your loved one will suddenly be in need of an organ transplant. Talk to your family about your wishes. Tell them you want to be an organ donor if anything should ever happen to you.
Please say "yes." Mikey did.
Heidi Brickey is a working mother, managing her home and the dental office of her husband, Thomas F. Brickey. Together, they live in Salt Lake City with their children, MiaBella, 13, and Elijah, 10, two dogs and a beta fish. MiaBella is loving every second of her second chance.