Sarah Gray: How my son's short life made a lasting difference
Sarah Gray - Researchers' dream donator
Sarah Gray found meaning in tragic loss by donating the organs of her newborn son to advance scientific research. Full bio
went to my second sonogram.
we had a higher risk
the standard birth defects,
that we were about to face.
that one of our twins, Thomas,
was not formed correctly
typically die in utero
or days of being born.
as far as the doctor could tell,
how this could have possibly happened,
was not impossible,
for the healthy twin and for me,
the pregnancy to term.
with two trimesters ahead of me,
my blood pressure and my stress.
point a loaded gun at you for six months.
the barrel of that gun for so long
at the end of the tunnel.
to prevent the tragedy,
for Thomas's brief life
eye and tissue donation.
at birth to donate for transplant,
you could be rejected for that.
a good candidate to donate for research.
to unlock a medical mystery.
and they were both born alive.
the top part of his skull,
like a normal baby,
National Medical Center.
that the recovery was a success,
would be going to four different places.
to Duke University.
company called Cytonet in Durham.
to Schepens Eye Research Institute,
to the University of Pennsylvania.
with our immediate family,
closed this chapter in our lives.
what's happening now?
to a grief retreat,
15 other grieving families
organs for transplant.
their loved one's organs,
could even meet each other
I thought maybe I could write a letter
and learn about what happened.
for people who donate for transplant.
I had transplant envy, I guess.
why they requested infant retinas
could visit their lab.
that arranged the donation,
send it to the right person.
never done this before,
and they would deliver it.
of the University of Pennsylvania.
that she is studying retinoblastoma,
under the age of five,
we were invited to visit her lab.
imagine how we felt,
the ultimate sacrifice,
to feel indebted to us.
and the system chose your study.
bad things happen to children every day,
be buried in the ground right now.
a new layer of meaning.
about using this tissue."
for this tissue six years earlier
that fit her criteria,
to come visit the lab,
which was the twins' fifth birthday.
some pictures of Thomas and Callum,
we received this T-shirt in the mail.
and I piled in the car
not to feel guilty, that it was a relief,
from our perspective.
had a secret code name.
is called HeLa,
from DC to Philadelphia.
is like an heirloom to us now.
or a wedding certificate might be.
Thomas's retina and his RNA
that causes tumor formation,
that were based on RES 360.
that she still has
when she might get more.
with a birthday gift.
simple messages today.
don't think about donating to research.
I think I'm a normal person.
and I recommend it,
with human tissue
and about the family,
tell them what you're working on,
even more gratifying for you
in arranging one of these visits,
all four facilities
doing inspiring work.
is that Thomas got into Harvard,
in order to do their job.
brief and insignificant
everlasting and relevant.
can be as relevant.
About the speaker:Sarah Gray - Researchers' dream donator
Sarah Gray found meaning in tragic loss by donating the organs of her newborn son to advance scientific research.
Why you should listen
While struggling to cope with the loss of their infant son Thomas, Sarah Gray and her family met the researchers who received his eye, liver and cord blood donations. This journey garnered national and international media attention and brought profound peace to the Gray family.
Gray is the director of marketing and public affairs for the American Association of Tissue Banks and a member of the AATB Donor Family Guidance Document Committee. She is author of a forthcoming memoir from HarperOne, A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy's Gift to Medical Science.
Gray holds a BA in Communications from Marquette University and a Masters in Public Communication from American University, where her capstone topic was nondirected kidney donation. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband Ross and children, Callum and Jocelyn.
Sarah Gray | Speaker | TED.com