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Mikhail’s miracle: Organ donation leads to reunion 17 years later

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

Stephanie McCurdy can’t wait to met Devin.

He’s the kind of son every mother would be proud of – good student, good athlete, a young man with his whole life ahead of him.

Devin and his mother, Vicky, are arriving Wednesday, March 3 on the Big Island for a remarkable reunion with McCurdy.

Devin

Seventeen years ago, the two mothers were staging vigils in separate California hospital rooms. The life force was draining from Mikhail, age 3, and Devin, just 11 months old.

When Mikhail’s fight ended, his healthy liver was transplanted into Devin, who was only hours away from death, and his kidneys went to teenager.

“At the official moment of Mikhail’s death, I was approached very gently about possible organ donation from my son,” McCurdy said. “I made a decision right then and there that I have never regretted. While the devastation of the loss of a child was great, I gained two reasons to go on living that third day of December 1992.”

As a medical doctor herself, McCurdy said she understood the importance right away.

“I think if Mikhail had made it to the surgery and died then, they wouldn’t have approached me,” she said. “But it did not take me long to say the words out loud. ‘Yes! We would be willing to give what ever was needed.’ This is what my son would have wanted.”

Mikhail

McCurdy said she has not ever regretted her decision.

“Devin’s mother wrote to me that the liver was a ‘perfect match’ as her son’s jaundice began to leave his face shortly after he was wheeled to the recovery room,” McCurdy said. “Mikhail’s kidneys were donated to a 19-year-old who had been undergoing dialysis for some time. Those organs began working as soon as they were connected on the operating table.

“As the years passed, thoughts of the recipients were never far from my mind as I wondered about their health and if they were leading productive lives,” McCurdy said.

She regularly contacted One Legacy, the nonprofit organ donor network that supports and tracks families, and was reassured to learn that they were indeed still doing well.

This year, McCurdy got word back that Devin’s family had been wanted to meet her for 17 years.

“Once I got in touch with Vicky, it was a love connection of sisterhood. That doesn’t happen every day,” McCurdy said. “The bond that we share as mothers of our very special children was the foundation. We share our sons, as her’s carries the liver of mine and we share the years of wondering about each other and caring and praying for each other as each of us worked through our share of grief and hard times … me with recovering from the death of a beloved child, her dealing day-to-day every day and every moment of her son’s life as she balanced her role as mother and caretaker of his health with the many medications that he had to have on a daily basis, and tending her other children and balancing their lives to be as normal as possible.”

The two women were soon making plans for this week’s reunion at McCurdy’s Keaau home.

“We could not spend another moment in life knowing each other and not seeing other in person. What an honor it is going to be to meet this special woman who call me her hero,” she said.

McCurdy doesn’t believe she deserve that accolade.

“I explain to her gently that I am not a hero. My son was the hero. But I like to think that that this was all planned a long time ago in heaven,” she said. “God knew the outcome and made plans to make it better and give two families a bridge of love to cross and connect them, through the loving gift of one special little boy, Mikhail Josiah McCurdy.”

McCurdy said she expects the reunion to be as emotional as the telephone conversations she has had with Devin’s mom.

“We both cry. But if it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have Devin,” she said. “It’s giving us a whole new meaning for normal. It’s not just a setting on the clothes dryer.”

McCurdy said she hopes Mikhail and Devin’s story prompts other families to talk about and consider organ donation. As a doctor, McCurdy already had made donor plans.

“But it was for myself. I never thought about it for my son,” she said, but when the time came “it just made sense and now I have two good reasons to keep on living.”

Over the years, when people have asked, McCurdy always gives the same reply.

“Knowing that at least two lives were saved because of my son’s generosity gave his life and death full meaning,” she said. “The devastation of losing my son at such a tender age was softened by the knowledge that someone else’s child would be given a new life.”

On Wednesday, for the first time, she will meet that child.

— Find out more:
www.onelegacy.org/prod/compone…
www.organdonorhawaii.com/
www.donatelifehawaii.org/

TAKE MY HEART
By Stephanie McCurdy, 1993

Hi Mom, Remember me?
I’m your darling son
The one you bounced on your knee
And called your beloved one

As I watch and listen from the sky
I see your tears as they glisten
Oh Mom, Please don’t cry

Take my heart and all those things
That they, the living, can use
For my spirit freely wings
from that body which I chose to lose

Please don’t weep too longingly for me
For in this heavenly place
I am where I can always see
The beauty of God’s face

11 Responses to “Mikhail’s miracle: Organ donation leads to reunion 17 years later”

  1. Richard Rosa says:

    I am as excited for my beloved sister Stephanie for this miracle as she is. I only wish I could be in Hawaii to meet this young man that carries part of my nephew with him. We cried in that hospital the night Makhail left us but rejoiced that his legacy lives on. We couldn’t be happier that Devin is such a outstanding young man and that he is here today because of Makhail. God Bless them in this grand reunion.
    All our LOVE!!
    Rick & Mary

  2. David J Undis says:

    If more people were as generous as Mikhail McCurdy, we wouldn’t have over 50% of Americans waiting for organ transplants dying each year. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

    There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren’t willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at http://www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 13,600 members, including 70 members in Hawaii.

    Please contact Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers, if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. He can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you’re interested. His email address is daveundis@lifesharers.org. His phone number is 615-351-8622.

    .

  3. Susan Prairie Hawthorne says:

    Hi Steph,

    The article is beautiful…I will be with all of you in thought and spirit. Mikhail has always been and will be one of God’s special angels….and you have always been one of his cherished and faithful servants.

    Love you lots,

    Susan

  4. Vivan says:

    Aloha Stephanie,
    I am eternally greatful to you and Mikhail for giving Devin, and his family and friends, the Gift of Devins Life. For 17 years I have thanked God for your decision to donate your sons liver. Now, finally I can put the names Stephanie and Mikhail in my prayers .
    For 17 years I have prayed for Devin to remain happy and healthy, and those prayers too have been answered because of you and Mikhail.
    Like your brother Rick I remember that night vividly and the pain and sorrow and the inability to understand why and how this could be happening. But a miracle occured for Devin and for us when Mikhails liver was a perfect match for Devin. Thank you Stephanie and Mikhail for giving us Devin to love. Let that miracle keep growing, sending eternal love! Vivian

    • Stephanie McCurdy says:

      Aloha Vivian:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It was the greatest miracle that we two mothers finally connected after all this time and all the prayers through the years. God’s timing is after all, perfect and I have no regrets that we did not meet sooner. It is my feeling that we were being prepared all along for this great meeting. I am blessed to have new hanai family. God bless you for your prayers.

  5. Christian Pearson says:

    People ask, “Why would a loving God allow such a horrible think to happen?”; but then who can understand the mind of God? I can say that He is the only one that can turn tragedy into joy and tears into laughter. This last week several of us experienced such a miracle. Two families separated – have now became one through what was once devastation. Together now after seventeen years, a mother is reunited with her son. Albiet a different presentation, a part of Mikhale lives on in Devin – They are the fortunate; for to have two mothers to love and beloved is significant. And that is only the start. God knew that Mikhale’s gift would keep on giving as generations spring from and back into God’s kingdom. God’s love continues to bring many families together. The comments listed here testify to God’s love! He has made a way by giving – to receive a miracle. Lives are saved and families are united! We are commanded by God to “Love one another…” Organ donation is one of the highest forms of unselfish love – in giving you can expect another miracle!

    Christian Pearson

    • Christian Pearson says:

      Mikhail wore a cute sailor suit, but was never in Mikhale’s Navy.- excuse my typeos. Love to all.
      Christian

  6. Jodi Sornsin says:

    Stephanie

    I agree with Vicki you are a Hero! Vicki is also amazing, we met Vicki while we were waiting for our son who was undergoing a liver transplant. Vicki came down and shared her story with us and gave us such hope for recovery. We cannot wait until the day that we have the most awesome pleasure that you have had and get to meet Ben’s donor familly. With Mom’s like Stephanie and Vicki the world is a better place. Thank you Stephanie for being a hero for Devin and his family, also many prayers to your young son who did so many wonderful things at such a young age!

    My best to you! Jodi

    • Stephanie McCurdy says:

      Aloha Jodi:
      I am truly blessed to have met with Vicky and her beloved son after all this time. It put everything into perspective and gave us each closure on those raw emotions that we both experienced so many years ago. Each one of us was concerned for the other without knowing each other. And I believe that the prayers year after year for each other is what finally brought us together. God’s timing is perfect.

  7. Jessica Gibson says:

    Very Touching! An amazing life changing experience for Devin- “literally”. You are a strong lady Aunt Steph.

  8. MaryAnn Williams says:

    Stephanie, You are the most kind giving person that I have ever met in my life. If it was not for you I would not have the life I have today. You have made a difference in so many people’s lives over the years by your unselfishness and love for life it’s self . Mikhail’s organ donation that lives on in two other human beings is just the begenning of your contribution to this world and your legacy. You are literally a unselfish human being. You are a HERO in so many ways. In my time over the years that I have spent with you always loving caring about other people you are truely a special angel. I would have never expected anything less or unselfish from you.

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