Jonesboro-- What would you do if death met you at the door tomorrow? If the next phone call you get is to inform you that your husband, your son or daughter is dying. Those moments in pain, which sear a whole in our hearts, numb the mind and its hard to think of anything. Yet, this is a story of giving when all was lost.
Heros are made everyday. But, you may not think something as simple as signing a driver's license, or telling your spouse that you want to be an organ donor is a hero. And yet, it's the very thing that mark a man or woman's character for generations to come.
"We feel in love and were married in 2003," said Rachel Marler.
Bob and Rachel Marler had a busy life.
"Bob was very giving. He was always happy," said Rachel.
The couple welcomed a daughter named Riley first to the family--then...not long after--a son they called Clint. Life was on the fast track for this Poplar Bluff family.
Bob was farming and Rachel worked to help underprivileged and disabled people to find financial assistance and independence. Bob liked to hunt--but hadn't been duck-hunting in several years. So on New Year's Eve Day last year, he headed out with friends.
"He got up and left and went that morning. About 9 o'clock and I got the news that there had been an accident. We went to actually another town down from Poplar Bluff-- Dexter, Missouri," said Rachel.
The hunting accident was serious. A bullet, accidentally fired by a friend, had hit him in the back and neck. Bob was airlifted to a Cape Girardeau trauma unit.
"It's just kind of like a bad dream when something happens. Just kind of going through the motions," said Rachel remembering the day.
"I was 31 with two babies and just thinking my husband won't be there to see them grow up and see all the milestones that you want," she said.
Through it all, the memories, the rush of emotion, Rachel remembered a conversation she and Bob had about organ donation.
"It was just one of those weird conversations we had one night and you just don't think about it... You know, you think you're immortal and nothings going to happen to you," said Rachel. "He had expressed his wishes also that he'd like to donate his organs if something were to happen to him."
"She did handle it really well, "said Lt. Robert Speer, Rachel's father. Lt. Speer has handled all sorts of car accidents as an Arkansas State trooper. But, when it was his daughter, Rachel, making the decisions--decisions involving organ donation--well, it became very personal.
"She never hesitated once about doing the correct thing of allowing them to harvest his organs to help other people," said Speer.
So, the man known for helping and giving so much to others in life--also gave that much in death.
"He was able to save five live through vital organ donation and then it could be as many as 100 to 200 through tissue donation which could be bone, skin, ligaments, tendons and veins," said Kim Moseley, donor program specialist with Mid-America Transplant Services.
Bob also gave two people the gift of sight.
Clint may never remember his daddy. But, Rachel is hopeful that he will be touched by his father's gift of life--and the chance to educate others about organ donation.
"We were able to have an open casket," said Rachel. "His wounds were not visible. It was in his back and long his neck... So he looked like Bob. Even though we were able to donate all the major organs you couldn't tell."
"When you hear the families give their testimony and speak to the positive results to the gift of giving, then it makes it a place where you want to be...a job you enjoy doing and it's a privilege to share that moment with these families," said Kim.
A letter came to Rachel just a few days ago from the wife of the man who received Bob's heart. She says her 30 year old husband was about to die...now they are looking forward to having children.
"That's your Daddy's ring... That's your Daddy's wedding ring," Rachel tells Riley and shows her the wedding band on a necklace.
Just like the ring, Rachel wears around her neck, Bob's wedding ring, a symbol of undying love... So too, is the circle of life.
Riley kisses her Daddy's ring.
In order for a person to be an organ donor like Bob, certain circumstances--like a car accident, brain injury or stroke may have occurred. Only after all efforts to save the patient's life have been exhausted, does organ donation become an option. That's why its so important for someone to have a conversation like Bob did with his wife. That way you know what he or she wants to have done--in the event of something tragic like this. You can sign your driver's license as an organ donor and put your name on the state donor registry, but it's important to discuss it with your family.