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Organ donor’s impact continues to live on in others

Apr. 22, 2021, 9:13 AM

 

by Matt Batcheldor

Ninety-one people gave the gift of life as deceased organ donors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2020, and behind every one of them is a story. This is the story of Evan Snider, 19, of Franklin, Tennessee.

Evan Snider’s family made the decision to donate his organs after his death last year.

“He was a really great young man, kind and warm and gentle,” said his father, Mark Snider. “He was quiet, but he had a great sense of humor. He was really easy to talk to.”

Last year, Evan had just graduated from Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA) in Franklin, Tennessee, and planned to spend time with all his friends over the summer before starting college at the University of Tennessee in the fall. He was heading home one night in July from visiting some of those friends — he had a lawn mulching job in the morning — when tragedy struck.

Evan’s vehicle left the road in downtown Franklin and hit a utility pole. He was taken by ambulance to the Emergency Department at Vanderbilt, where he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Within days, Evan’s family was faced with the decision of donating Evan’s organs.

“I’m an organ donor,” Mark said. “It’s indicated on my driver’s license. But when you’re in that situation and you have to make a decision about your child, it’s really a different perspective. You don’t ever want to make that decision. That’s not a decision you think you’re going to have to make on behalf of your child.”

The family ultimately decided to donate Evan’s organs. Vanderbilt and Tennessee Donor Services staff held an honor walk for Evan, solemnly lining the hallways as Evan was transported to the operating room to give his final gifts.

“That was the last time we saw him,” Mark said.

Since Evan’s accident, Mark has been an advocate for organ donation. He recently had the opportunity to counsel another family who was weighing their own son’s organ donation. “It’s the only way that a part of him is actually continuing to live on this earth, physically,” he told the family. “And they ended up being organ donors.”

Indeed, part of Evan lives on. And he continues to live in the memory of his family and the community that loved him. Evan’s memorial service was held on the football field at CPA, where he played on the football team throughout high school. He was a gifted runner and loved running track at his school.

Evan had a reputation of personally welcoming new students to his small, close-knit high school. And he loved his golden retriever, Sophie, who died just a few days before him.

“He never got into any trouble,” Mark recalled. “He was a very good kid. All of his friends say he’s a great listener, that he made people feel heard.”

To learn more about becoming an organ and tissue donor, visit bethegifttoday.com. Tennessee drivers can also choose to become an organ donor on their driver’s license applications. Donors are encouraged to share their decisions with their families.

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