A Hero through the Gift of Tissue Donation

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Tom Crooks, Donor

A Hero through the Gift of Tissue Donation

Posted June 7, 2011

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My husband, Tom, was one of the most vibrant people I have ever known. He was twice a hero in a 12 year time span. First he braved a tornado to warn and save my daughter, her husband, and their 2 children. If he had not seen the tornado across the field and gone out in the face of the tornado to get them to our basement, they would have all been killed. Their home next door to us exploded from the tornado. The beds where the children, ages 2 and 3 were sleeping were found 1/4 of a mile away in the woods and twisted around trees. They literally lost every bit of their home and belongings, but their lives were saved as Tom got them to the basement as the tornado hit our homes. He stated that he kept telling himself that they were all going to die as he watched the tornado getting closer and closer as they ran to the basement. My daughter was blown to the ground with the 2 year old in her arms and Tom grabbed them up as my son-in-law was running with the 3 year old. Tom did not see himself as a hero and said he was just scared.

crooks-web-res-g8pTom loved music. He had a heavy metal band and played lead guitar. He taught both his bass player and drummer to play. They all loved to jam and were often joined by other musicians and singers. Tom loved his son and spent as much time as possible with him, sharing their love of music and concerts. He loved animals and rescued many of them, including a fawn, a coyote, and especially his beloved dachshund, Destiny, who died from cancer a few weeks before Tom was killed. Tom loved his job as golf course superintendent and took great pride in the appearance of the golf course. Other than working and playing music, Tom spent his time with his family.

Tom was a hero a second time at age 44. On April 24, 2008, in a tragic accident, Tom was working, mowing an area of the golf course that he would not allow his crew to mow because of the dangerous terrain. Because of days of excessively heavy rain causing the ground to be saturated, the edge of a pond bank gave way and the mower fell 5 feet, crushing Tom under it and killing him instantly.

Every time we attended a funeral or discussed death, Tom adamantly repeated his desire to be a whole body donor. When I arrived at the hospital emergency room just as Tom was brought in by the emergency medical people, I informed the staff of his desires. Although his major organs could not be used due to the nature of his death, soft tissue, bone, and other organs were. Mid-America Transplant Services told me that his donation could help 75 people. I consider that to be heroic. Knowing that Tom’s wishes were carried out and that he could go on living through the donations still helps me to cope with his death. And I know how proud he is, knowing his wishes were carried out.

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