Have you ever met a total stranger who made a fundamental difference in your life? I have.
This story has a happy ending, but imagine being told your child has just hours to live. Tandy and Jim Owen know that heartache. They know the emotional distress of hearing a chaplain tell them to “make peace with God.”
Their daughter Jessica was born in 1994 with a liver disease that would eventually lead to a liver transplant.
Jessica finally received a transplant in 2000. But the transplant was not successful. Doctors said Jessica had “zero chance of survival.”
“Your heart drops to your shoes,” said Tandy Owen. “It’s something you just can’t believe, and we didn’t.”
“But then a miracle,” said Jim Owen.. At the same hospital, at the exact time, “a baby passed away in the ICU unit,” he said.
The death of one child gave new life to Jessica. The liver wasn’t an exact match - it was the wrong blood type. But it was transplanted into Jessica as a stopgap emergency measure. She’s had it ever since.
Jessica is now 15-years-old, a happy and healthy 9th grader. Her favorite TV show is the Gilmore Girls.
Meanwhile, Tandy and Jim Owen have written a book “My Child Needs a Transplant, Now What?. The book is written so others facing the same struggles won’t have to feel alone, unprepared, or uneducated.
As for this reporter’s personal connection with the Owen family? In 2000, Tandy Owen was a guest on the weekend morning newscast. She was running in a marathon to raise donor awareness.
On live TV, she challenged me to run a marathon. With much apprehension, I agreed. It was a life-changing decision. I’m currently training for my 15th marathon! And when I run, the thought of a happy and healthy Jessica Owen is never far from my mind.