Kim Cobb is no stranger to the lifesaving gifts of organ and tissue donation. Her late husband, Mark, was born with only one kidney that didn’t function properly. Over the course of his life, he received four kidney transplants that gave him more time with his family, before passing away from lung cancer in March 2022. Despite his medical history, Mark’s wish was to donate his organs and tissues, if possible.
“We found out about a week later that he was able to donate his corneas,” Kim says. “We were so happy, because we knew how important organ donation was for him. To be able to give something to someone else was important to him.”
But what Kim could never know was that, about a year later, organ and tissue donation would impact her family yet again. During the early morning hours of Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, Kim’s son Thomas “Tommy” Bigwood began having difficulty breathing and experienced cardiac arrest. At the hospital, doctors struggled to understand what caused the cardiac event and waited 72 hours to see if Tommy’s brain swelling would decrease. Sadly, Tommy was placed on life support with no hope of recovery.
Kim and Tommy’s girlfriend, Ashley, knew that Tommy’s final wish would be to donate his organs and tissues to others in need. Over the course of three days, Tommy’s family waited while his organs and tissues were typed, and recipients found. “It was really hard, because I knew my son was dead essentially, but it was good because it gave a lot of people the opportunity to come say goodbye,” Kim says.
In the end, Tommy was able to donate his heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and corneas to give others the gift of life. “It really made me feel so happy that Tommy was able to donate his organs,” Kim says. “It doesn’t make the pain go away, but it makes me feel a little bit better that someone was helped.”
As the widow of an organ recipient and mother of an organ donor, Kim fully understands the importance of organ and tissue donation. “For me, to be on both sides of it, is a really unique perspective,” she says. “I wouldn’t have had my husband if it wasn’t for the gifts of those four people who he received organs from over his lifetime. And for me to think about how important it was that Tommy helped people … really helped me to feel a bit better about his passing. I take solace knowing that Tommy’s death helped other people.”
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.