"Popeye" Shares the Gift of Sight

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Mike (Popeye) Kallal, Donor

"Popeye" Shares the Gift of Sight

Posted January 7, 2013

mike-kallalMike (Popeye) Kallal

People have asked us “how we have survived this tragedy of losing Mike.” Sharing our story and promoting organ/tissue donation is the answer. You see, we were dealt a hand of cards. We could either let those cards lie or pick them up and play them. We chose to play them. To know Mike, you would know he was the most optimistic person around. He always saw the good in people and the glass of water half full. We were made aware Mike’s corneas have allowed two individuals to receive the “gift of sight.” It is a great comfort to know Mike continues to live on, and our hope as a family is these two individuals see life as Mike did: full of laughter and optimism.

“To know Mike, you would know he was the most optimistic person around. He always saw the good in people and the glass of water half full.”

On September 24, 2004 our family became a “donor family.” Our loved one, Mike (Popeye) Kallal, was killed in a car wreck on his way to work. That morning began as always with Mike going to the Jerseyville Wellness Center for his morning workout. He would arrive home and we would sit down and enjoy our morning ritual of drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. For some reason, that morning when Mike walked out the door, I followed him. In hindsight, I now know why: it was the last time I would see Mike alive.

Shortly after Mike left for work, I began hearing several sirens going out of town. I do not know how to explain this, but somehow I knew Mike was involved. Soon after arriving at work, two friends arrived to take me to Jersey Community Hospital. It was there I received the news Mike was killed in a head-on car crash.

After I was able to see Mike, I was approached by the charge nurse of the emergency room to complete necessary paper work. Of all the questions asked of me that morning, one question I vividly remember was would I consent to Mike becoming an organ/tissue donor. In retrospect, six months before Mike’s accident, we began discussing with our family the topic of organ/tissue donation. Our children remember their Dad’s reply, “When I die, they can take whatever they need, because where I’m going, I won’t need them.”

After attending an MTS function, our family decided to promote organ/tissue donation. In 2008, we began the annual Spring Organ/Tissue Donation Awareness 5K run/2 mile walk. The first three years, we had a scholarship set up in memory of Mike at Jersey Community High School along with MTS, who were recipients of the money raised from this event. In 2011, we changed the recipients to MTS and Jersey Community Hospital Emergency Room Expansion. During this event, we have donor families as well as recipients share their story. Everyone in attendance is in awe of their stories.


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