5 On Your Side

Organ recipient recalls gift of life

Posted December 23, 2009

Mary Conyers Tucker got a life-saving gift. She shares her story to encourage others to consider such an awesome gift.

Organ donation a gift of life Organ donation a gift of life

She was diagnosed with liver cancer at age 13.

“At that moment, it's really just kind of disbelief,” she said. “How could this happen to me?”

She desperately needed a new liver.

Her mother, Mary Tucker, vividly remembers the night it hit her that her brave daughter understood the seriousness of the situation.

“Out of the dark, this voice says, ‘Mommy, am I gonna die?’ And after a couple of prayers, I said, ‘No sweetie, you're not.’"

After two rounds of chemotherapy, Mary Conyers was put on the liver transplant list, along with 17,000 other people.

Several months later, the call came.

“There's not really a lot of time to even think,” Mary Conyers said. “You're just so grateful for this gift that you know your life's about to be saved. It's a pretty … indescribable feeling.”

The first year, she fought her body’s initial rejection of the liver and other complications from the transplant. After three years, she got the all clear from her doctors. Aside from taking daily medication, Mary Conyers now lives a normal, cancer-free life.

Both she and her mother are big proponents of organ donation.

Mary Tucker speaks to driver's ed students. For her, it is a constant thank-you to the anonymous donor who saved her daughter's life.

“We hope that people will reconsider, if they haven't already considered, becoming an organ donor, understanding the impact the decision really means,” she said.

“Most of us don't have to know. We don't think twice about it. But it's life or death for so many people.”

Mary Conyers echoed her gratitude. “It's the best gift you could ever receive, and I can't imagine how difficult that decision must be, but it's given me life,” she said.

“It has given me an opportunity to graduate from high school, graduate from college and do all the things (that) at one point I didn't think I would be able to do. And, I'm just so sincerely grateful.”

Even simple, ordinary things, like making chocolate caramels with her family at Christmas, are a reminder of her gift of life.

“It's the little things you take for granted a lot of times that just really, you know, you think about and are appreciative of,” she said.

There are two ways to become a donor: Sign up through the Division of Motor Vehicles when you renew your driver's license or go to the Donate Life North Carolina Web site and click on “Become a Donor.” The site also has a lot of information about organ donation. The decision to sign up is legally binding, so make sure you talk about it with your family.

The organ donation groups say: Share your life. Share your decision.


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  • dukefanatic Dec 29, 2009

    It's called HEAVEN

  • snshine62d Dec 28, 2009

    My Uncle just recently under went a lung transplant, he had other problems and unfortunatley, things did not turn out so well. However, he told his wife if he did not make it that he would like to pass the gift along to someone else. So, that's exactly what happened. I myself am a donor and would'nt have it any other way. I mean, what am I going to do with it when I pass on? Might as well let someone get a chance at life when mine is done.

    Glad she got a second chance and that the mother is out there telling their story. God Bless.

  • Not Now Dec 24, 2009

    My brother gave the ultimate gift 10 years ago on Easter Sunday. Five people have a new outlook on life thanks to him. When your soul is finished with your body, give someone else a chance to live. When you get to the hereafter, you won't be turned away because your liver (or heart, lungs, kidneys, corneas, skin, etc) is missing. If you don't believe in a hereafter, you have nothing to lose by donating your viable organs.