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Donate Life Flag Raising Ceremony set for April 30

Apr. 23, 2015, 9:29 AM

Becky Holman has worked at DCI Donor Services Tissue Bank for 22 years, allowing her to be a part of the donation process for hundreds of patients.

As a longtime donor advocate, the importance of donating organs and tissue has always been a part of the conversation in her household.

Caleb Holman, top, with his parents, Becky and Mike, and his sister, Kirsten.

It was no surprise when her oldest son, Caleb, checked the box on his driver’s license application to be a donor when he turned 16 in 2011.

The following year, it was that one fact that escaped her while her son lay in the trauma unit with a broken neck at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“Doctors told us that his pupils were dilated and fixed,” said Holman. “I am not a nurse, but I had been around this enough with my work to know what was going on. We knew that was not a good sign.

“It was really odd, but at the time, I did not remember that he had signed his driver’s license,” she said. “I was terrified that I was imposing my thoughts and beliefs onto him. It was my husband who reminded me that he was an organ donor.”

In the midst of despair and shock, Holman said there were a few things that comforted her, including being able to stay by their son’s bedside, the gentleness of the staff and knowing that someone’s quality of life would be enhanced despite the loss of Caleb’s.

“Something positive came out of this,” said a teary Holman. “I wouldn’t want any other parent to have to go through this, but if I had to lose him, I know that there are three people for sure who got to live a little longer and two other people who can now see.
“Caleb has made a difference in someone’s life.”

It is that point that Holman hopes to make as the guest speaker during the annual Donate Life Flag Raising Ceremony at Vanderbilt.

The program, set for Thursday, April 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. on the Medical Center plaza next to Au Bon Pain, is part of a national effort to raise awareness about the need for organ, tissue and eye donations as well as a time to honor donors and recipients whose lives have been impacted by organ, eye and tissue donation.

The medical personnel who care for these patients and their families will also be celebrated.

Holman said her son, who was a rising senior at Creek Wood High School in White Bluff, died days after a swimming pool accident on July 4, 2012.

The 17-year-old was an avid trap shooter and Eagle Scout. He loved the outdoors and wanted to become a mechanic.

“He really had a servant’s heart,” Holman said proudly. “At the end, it made us feel good that we were able to follow through with his last wish to help somebody else.”

During Donate Life Vanderbilt, organizers will be on hand to encourage event-goers to register to become an organ donor at www.DonateLifeTn.org.

Also, the second annual Songs for Life Songwriters Series Benefit Concert will be held on Saturday, May 2, at 8:30 p.m. at the City Winery.

For ticket information go to http://www.citywinery.com/nashville/tickets/songsforlife050215.html.

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