Rebecca Walker, Donor Family
Bec Becomes a Hero
Posted August 27, 2012
I have been wanting to tell my family’s story for such a long time. I never was a good story teller, so just bear with me.
My daughter Rebecca Anne Walker was born on June 5th, 1986 with transposition of the great arteries. She turned the color of faded blue jeans the moment she was born. She had to have a purpose in life because, you see, I drove myself to the ER and arrived there dilated to 10cm. Less than 15 minutes later, she came into this world. My husband was on active duty at the air force base working as a MP. From the other side of the base, he jumped in the police car, drove to the office, threw his gun on the desk and, with lights blazing, made it to the birth.
Rebecca was 14 years old when she was put on the organ transplant list for heart and lungs. We all knew the possibility was there, but it was not suppose to be my Bec. On the way home from St. Louis, she spoke only a few words. She said, “I want to be an organ donor. Everybody should be able to see the sun rise.”
My sister Mary was already waiting for a kidney. She had been on the list for almost two years at that point. She was my only sister out of eight kids. And, out of the seven of us, none of us could be a donor to save her life, mostly because of our own health problems.
Around this time my husband William had back surgery. It was a donor’s bone tissue that allowed my husband to be able to go back to work and be the father to our three children that he wanted to be. If I could meet that family, now that would be an “honor.”
My sister Mary remained on that donation list for well over five years. She passed away at the age of 46. She was unable to donate tissue because of the medications she had to take. On December 5, 2002, I lost my best friend. As for Rebecca, her reality really began to set in. She had already been on the list for two years, seven months, nine days.
Rebecca threw herself into her art and attempted some poems. Her dream was to be a writer and artist. She promised herself she would make it to her senior year of high school. She loved school. There she could be one of the “normal” ones. She loved her teachers, and they loved her. Before the end of each class she was allowed to start making the long walk to her next class.
We allowed Bec to be as normal as her body would allow. If there was something she could not do, then none of us would do it.
When she was in kindergarten and the class would go outside for some exercise, the other kids would have to run some. The teacher always allowed Bec to walk at her own pace. When the rest of the class rebelled, the teacher had Bec stand up in front of the class, and she was able to explain to the others why. After that day, my Bec made friends. I was so proud of her and grateful to that teacher. What she did was open a whole new world to my girl. She truly gave Bec her own voice.
When a person is sick all their lives, all those daily things that are, and should be, so normal and mundane, the sickness itself can become such a burden. Rebecca’s was progressive. While driving past the soccer field and watching the kids practicing their kicking and running, she asked me, “What is it like to run? I just want to run.”
My Rebecca lost her battle at 5:30 a.m. on August 31, 2004. At the ER, the nurse asked me and my husband if we would consider allowing organ and tissue donation. We said yes with no hesitation, it was what she wanted. My girl (we were told) helped anywhere from 35 to 65 people. She could only donate tissue because of the medications she was on, but the important thing was that she was able to donate.
My girl made it to her senior year of high school, and she gave the gift of sight. Two recipients were given cornea tissue. Rebecca’s skin and bone were also donated.
My Rebecca waited for a hero to save her life … instead she became one.