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Mark Stanley, a true selfless hero, whose donated organs are making life possible for four others

By Patricia A. Scheyer
NKyTribune reporter

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. No one knows when they will be called upon to show what they’re made of; to show that they are selfless enough to be a hero.

Mark Stanley was called upon to be a hero.

Mark and his family, (Photo provided)

As an adult, Mark signed the donor card on the back of his driver’s license. Sadly the day came when that selfless act would mean the gift of life to at least four others.

Three years ago, Mark was diagnosed with asthma, a disease that can be controlled, but at the same a serious disease that can be life threatening.

Last year, Mark, 30, was home with his wife and four young daughters and was having some serious problems breathing. He went into the bathroom, and his wife, Paige, followed him in, hoping to help in some way.

But Mark collapsed. Paige, a nurse, started CPR, and their oldest daughter called 911.

Mark made it to the hospital, but his brain had not received enough blood to keep him alive. He was being kept alive with machines.

Mark and his mom, Tina (Photo provided)

Several days later, on April 24, Mark’s 31st birthday, he died.

But that is the beginning of his heroism. Because he signed the back of his driver’s license, he was able to donate his organs.

With that contract, Mark saved the lives of four people, giving them his heart, his liver, and two kidneys. Doctors were also able to save his corneas for donation, and there were three tissue donations, plus one skin donation to a burn victim.

The Life Center Organ Donation Network in Cincinnati explains that there are four different types of
donation; living donation, deceased donation, tissue donation, and pediatric donation.

In this country, every nine minutes another person is added to the list of people waiting for a new organ. That waiting list is a huge symbol of hope to so many patients waiting for a lifesaving gift of a transplant so they can survive.

Mark with brother Max and wife Paige (Photo provided)

Each day 20 people die while waiting for a transplant, according to Life Center. But advances in technology have contributed to the list of organs and tissues that can be transplanted successfully.

Mark’s decision to sign the back of his license was influenced by the fact that his mother, Tina Stanley, is a Transplant Coordinator, and has been for the last 19 years, first at UC Medical Center and now at Children’s Hospital.

“I would come home and tell stories about how someone was able to get a new organ,” said Tina. “He always said he didn’t want to be buried. He told me,’take what they need, and cremate the rest.'”

Tina said Mark was the sweetest man, he had a great heart, and he was very kind. She said he started having kids early, and his family was his greatest pleasure. They loved to go camping, and hiking, and when they traveled, outdoor life was a big part of the adventure. He and Paige were married at Red River Gorge.

“The family was very outdoorsy,” Tina recalled. “When he was diagnosed with asthma, we were surprised, but he had his good days, and his bad days. He had an attack in January, and was treated with antibiotics and steroids.”

Mark and his dad David (Photo provided)

Mark’s family is still grieving. Tina says she tries to be strong for Paige and her young granddaughters, but she said sometimes she just has to be in her room, crying for her lost son. Mark had a younger brother, Max, who is really feeling the loss now as he is starting his family.

Tina believes in transplants and brave people who are willing to let their organs help other people hoping and praying daily for a miracle. She would like to raise awareness for organ donation, because she knows the more people think about it, the more people will do it.

So while Mark is no longer with his family, somewhere his heart is beating in another person’s chest. His liver and kidneys are functioning for three other bodies, enabling them to live longer and without as much pain.

Tina is still working her way through her grief, but she had some advice.

“Live every day to the fullest,” she said softly, “because you never know what day will be the last.

If you can donate organs, you will know that your last day can be somebody’s first day.”

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One Comment

  1. David Stanley says:

    Thank you for the beautiful tribute to our son.

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