You hear a lot of stories around the holidays that are designed to elicit an emotional response – prefab ” Hallmark Moments “. But once in a while, you see the results of a graceful and unselfish gesture that really knocks you off your feet. So it has been for Carolyn Glaspy, the mother of former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry, who lost his life in the early morning of Dec. 17, 2009 after a fall from a moving vehicle the day before.
Four people – Brian Polk, Donna Arnold, James Benton, and Thomas Elliot – are alive today because of the organ transplants that were made possible by his mother after Henry’s passing. The embedded CBS Sports feature from this morning’s Lions-Patriots pregame show begins with those four people and their families sharing a Thanksgiving table with Chris Henry’s mom. And if that doesn’t choke you up …. well, don’t worry. There are many more opportunities to ” get a little dust in your eye ” as the seven-minute feature rolls along.
” I think about Chris Henry every day, ” Elliot said. ” And I think about his family. ” John Green, the trauma surgeon at Carolinas Medical Center where Henry was taken, said that he realized there wasn’t much anyone could do for Henry, based on his injuries. Matthew Kinney, the family support coordinator for the hospital, went to be with Mrs. Glaspy in her time of grief. And soon after Henry was declared dead, Glaspy made the split-second, unthinkable decision that her son had not during his life – that he would be a donor for others. ” It was a hard decision, ” Glaspy said. ” But it was a decision that I would do again if I had to. ”
Very quickly, Polk, Arnold, Benton, and Elliot were informed that their transplants would be happening. Polk received a kidney, Arnold received a pancreas and a kidney, Benton received a liver, and Elliot received two lungs. It was Glaspy’s way of making the best of the worst imaginable situation, but what has come from that decision has affected everyone involved more than they might have imagined. Not only are the four who live through that gesture doing well, but as Glaspy said, she has a new family with those people.
About 5:30 into the video, we see Mrs. Glaspy coming to Carolinas Medical Center to meet the people she and her son helped. When she goes through the door, and those people applaud for her …. well, that’s when words failed me. Just watch the video, hug your friends and family a little tighter today, and give thanks for what you have – especially the things you have from the most unexpected sources.
As Mrs. Glaspy said, ” People of faith believe that people journey into one’s life for a reason. Of course, my family will never be the same, but it will also never be bigger. And for that, on this and every other day, I will truly, truly be forever thankful. “