Mom Forms Unbreakable Bond With Her Son's Heart Recipient

By Christian Lail • October 16, 2018

The mother is Tiki Finlayson of Tennessee. Her son Kevin – nicknamed "Sunshine" – Yates died at the age of 25 when a drunk driver crashed head-on into his minivan. Tiki decided to honor him by donating his heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, bones and tissue – saving 4 lives and healing many more. One of the people saved was Melvin Ellis, a minister in Alabama, who was brought back to life when he received Sunshine's heart. She actually received the thank you letter from Melvin on her Sunshine's birthday—and describes it as the best present she could have ever received.

She illustrated beautifully meeting Melvin for the first time: "As I was listening to my son's heartbeat through Melvin's chest, I thought, Wow… Kevin really is a super hero. I had never been more proud of him then I was in that moment."

Tiki and Melvin have joined a national campaign called #BeTheGift – a completely fresh and fun way to encourage more organ and tissue donation. For reasons I don't have to explain, organ and tissue donation is not a subject on everyone's lips. People generally avoid the subject of death, which means they also avoid the subject of donation.

The facts are compelling: Today, 115,000 Americans are waiting for life-saving organs; 20 of them die every day, still waiting. Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in donation but only 54% are actually registered. People just don't realize that you can register online and how easy the process is.

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