"If I can touch one person with my son’s story I have done my job of keeping my sons legacy alive." ~ Carolyn Fletcher - Jerrell's mom
Jerrell Fletcher was a sophomore at Notre Dame High School in West Haven, CT. He was an accomplished three-season athlete and an honor student. Jerrell had an infectious personality, and he was the kind of kid that befriended the underdog. He had a huge heart.
Jerrell was the apple of his mom’s eye, her heartbeat, and her only child. Carolyn was a protective and relatively strict mom with high expectations of Jerrell. She was careful about where he went and never allowed Jerrell to ride with any teenage drivers, preferring to provide the transportation herself. At the end of his sophomore year of high school, Jerrell asked if he could attend a pizza party and get a ride with a friend. Carolyn was so proud of how well he had done in school all year and knew this celebration was important to him and she reluctantly let him go. Carolyn describes that decision as one that would end as the worst nightmare of her life. She received a call at 11:30 pm telling her to come to the Emergency Room. Jerrell had been in an accident. She rushed there to find him in a coma with a traumatic brain injury. The doctors worked very hard to try to save him, but his brain activity was gone. He was placed in a medically induced coma and declared brain dead.
Carolyn was approached by a member of the organ donation team and was asked if she wanted to consider organ donation if Jerrell passed. Carolyn realized that she and Jerrell had never ever talked about this, and she quickly dismissed them feeling very overwhelmed. After two days of standing by Jerrell’s bedside, Carolyn was told that there was nothing more that could be done. She was again approached about donation but wanted to spend a few moments with her son alone before making that decision. While watching his heart beating strong in his chest, Carolyn knew then that if she had the chance to ask him about donation he would say, “Mom, please save someone.”
Carolyn agreed to donate Jerrell’s heart, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Many lives were saved and improved as a result. An eleven-year-old boy received Jerrell’s heart. Carolyn has met him, felt and listened to Jerrell’s heartbeat again, and continues to keep in touch with this young man today. Carolyn is so grateful for the nurse who was patient with her and encouraged her to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud through the gift of donation. Knowing that Jerrell has lived on has helped her in her grieving process.
Carolyn is an active volunteer donor mom for New England Donor Services (NEDS) and Donate Life Connecticut. Carolyn shares that if she can touch even one person with her son’s story, she has done her job of keeping Jerrell’s legacy alive. “I know that he is smiling down on me.”
Carolyn’s goal is to encourage people to talk about organ donation, so they know the wishes of their loved ones before they pass. She hopes to save others the pain of making that kind of decision in the face of a tragedy and she encourages us all to register to be an organ donor and give the ultimate gift of life.