Organ donors honored
GONE FROM US n Ethel Meierbachtol, right, lost her son, Jeremy, in September 1999. Four people have a second chance at life after receiving his organs. Joining her is her daughter, Jessica Case, of Hattiesburg. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star.
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
March 18, 2001
Somewhere in Mississippi, the heart of Ethel Meierbachtol's son beats in the chest of another young man.
One day she hopes to meet the 16-year-old boy who received his heart. At last word, he was doing well and hoped to go back to school.
The boy is one of four people who was given a second chance at life though Jeremy's organ donations.
Meierbachtol remembered her son with others who have lost loved ones during a "Gift of Life" ceremony at the Lauderdale County Courthouse last week. The ceremony, sponsored by the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA), included the dedication of a courthouse plaque in remembrance of those who donated their organs and whose generosity is alive in the people they saved.
Meierbachtol said she became an organ donor advocate long before her son died.
Today, Meierbachtol struggles with a mixture of emotions sadness over the loss of her son and joy for those who can live because of him.
Meierbachtol learned Jeremy's liver had saved the life of a 42-year-old Florida man. The man, who is married and has children, had waited a painstaking two years for the new liver. The man would later write to her personally to thank her for the sacrifice.
Meierbachtol also learned a 36-year-old man from Mississippi received Jeremy's left kidney. He had been on dialysis for 3 1/2 years. Jeremy's right kidney and pancreas had been given to a 49-year-old woman in Florida who had a husband of 28 years and a daughter.
Since that time, Meierbachtol has learned the right kidney failed the woman, but she holds the hope of another transplant.
All she knows of the boy who received her son's heart is that he lives with his mother and stepfather and enjoys school and basketball.
Meierbachtol said she looks forward to the next recipient update, probably within the next two weeks.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.