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The Grief of Unexpected Loss, and the Healing Power of Deciding on Organ Donation

Organ donation is a personal decision—there is no right or wrong.

OneLegacy ambassador, Kim Payne, shared with us how she weathered the devastating loss of her grandson, Malaikye, by becoming an advocate for organ donation.

When Malaikye, or “Kye” as his family calls him, was born in 2010, Kim was closely involved in caring and raising him while her daughter (Kye’s mother) returned to work. Malaikye was a healthy, happy sixteen-month-old when he died suddenly and tragically.

In the aftermath, Kim’s daughter made the heartrending decision to donate Kye’s organs. Kye became a donor that saved four lives: his heart, liver, and both kidneys were successfully matched to recipients. One day she hopes to meet some of the recipients, including the two-year-old girl who received Kye’s heart and the sixty-three-year-old grandmother who received one of his kidneys.

"I looked at my daughter and said maybe we should consider organ donation. She immediately said, "No––absolutely not," and I completely respected that... about 40 minutes later, my daughter kind of tugged on my shirt and said, "Mom if we can change the outcome of some other family by donating his organs, I'd really like to see if we can do that.""


Kim Payne | Grandparent of an Organ Donor

The knowledge that her beloved grandson was an organ donor helped Kim survive a dark period of intense grief and inspired her to become a One Legacy ambassador. “This [would] be a good way to take care of myself by sharing his story,” Kim said, “and sharing the love that my daughter gave by saying yes to organ donation.”

In the last year, Kim has visited over 30 hospitals to speak doctors and nurses in her capacity as an ambassador. She focuses on educating hospital staff so they can provide accurate information to prospective donor families and emphasizes that the hospital staff should always respect the wishes of the prospective donor and their family.

Despite the grief that remains with her every day, Kim’s work with One Legacy gives her an opportunity to honor Kye’s life-saving gift by telling his story. “How amazing is it that my grandson has been gone almost eight years and I still get to talk about him?” she said. “It just gives me an outlet to get to share him and keep his memory alive.”

Kim’s experience is a testament to the power of organ donation: not only does it save lives, it can also provide some measure of healing and purpose to families who have suffered terrible loss. “I’m really grateful for the decision of my daughter saying yes [to organ donation], and what that gave me,” she said. If you’d like to support One Legacy’s mission to advance organ donation and honor the legacies of donors like Kye, you are invited to join the One Lambda Life Savers, TDX’s team that will participate in the 17th Annual Donate Life Run/Walk on April 27, 2019. For more information, please see the team site.