Sam Megna defied all the odds. Born at 30 weeks, he had struggles from the get-go: he was only 2 pounds 13 ounces at birth and was diagnosed with a neonatal brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation and limited blood flow. His doctors didn’t think he’d make it through the night. “He overcame all of that; he was a green belt in tae kwon do, he was an Italian folk dancer—he was a good boy,” says his mom, Carol. “He went through more than most people would, but he always did it with a smile.”
On July 20, 2017, Carol received a phone call that changed her family’s lives forever. Nine-year-old Sam was at day camp when he choked on his lunch and was rushed to Children’s Wisconsin, where he was unresponsive. “Sam was placed in a medically induced coma. For nine endless days we prayed, listened for any ounce of improvement from the doctors, and even started making a plan for when he came home,” Carol says.
But on July 28, doctors informed Carol, her husband Mark and their daughter Courtney that there was no hope for Sam’s recovery. “At that moment when you’re sitting there and they tell you that there’s no hope and you have somebody come in and ask to donate his organs—we did not hesitate,” Carol says. “We just said yes.”
“In my eyes, he was a baby. I never would have thought in a million years that we’d have to make that decision, but we did,” she continues. “And I’m glad we did. He was put here for a reason; he saved somebody else from having to go through what we went through.”
Sam’s heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and corneas were all donated to people in need. Because of his family’s selfless gift, six people were given a second chance at life. “For him to be taken was tragic, but he saved people’s lives,” Carol says.
Since Sam’s passing, the Megna family has raised money and awareness for organ and tissue donation. “It’s therapeutic for me to talk about Sam and make people aware that he was here—that he was a little boy,” Carol says. “If I can help somebody else, it heals me a little.”
Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the organ transplant waiting list.
Approximately 113,000 men, women, and children are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. One organ donor has the power to save up to eight lives and change the outcomes of someone’s world forever by giving them a second chance. Additionally, tissue donation can save and improve the lives of up to 75 people with their gifts. You can make a huge impact by registering as an organ and tissue donor.
Learn more about organ and tissue donation, or register as a donor at https://donatelifewisconsin.org.