'It was the right decision'
Hunter Biermeier smiles broadly in the video he made for his believer's baptism.
"My mom asked me if I accepted Christ into my life. I was pretty sure I did, but just to go to Heaven I did it again anyway," he says. "I want to be right by His side wanting more of Him."
This video was first shown on Oct. 22, 2011. Just three weeks later, 12-year-old Hunter was in a devastating ATV accident.
From the scene of the accident, MedLink AIR helicopter brought Hunter to Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. His father, Kyle remembers, "When he had his accident, I didn't believe his heart would start again because he was down for so long, and we were out in the woods. At the hospital they got his heart started, but there was no brain activity. Why else would his heart be working? I believe he was meant to help save others as an organ donor."
Hunter's mother, Teresa agrees, "Knowing his personality—he liked people—it was a pretty easy decision to make."
A couple of years earlier, Hunter's parents had to face the possibility that he might need a kidney transplant. While Hunter's kidney disease was being successfully treated with medication, it brought home the importance of organ donation. In fact, both Kyle and Teresa have long been designated as organ donors on their driver licenses.
"As you go through life, you don't think about how, in a blink of an eye, your life can be turned upside down," says Teresa. "It's better to discuss organ donation as a family. It's easier if you're educated before you have to face that decision. At the moment of a tragedy, it can be so overwhelming and our instincts are to be protective of our loved one at the time."
"We had to step back and ask what we could do. It was emotionally draining but it was the right decision," she adds. Ultimately, Hunter's kidneys and liver were recovered to help others in desperate need. It's a grim reality that more than 100,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for a donated organ. Thousands die each year waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Thanks to the Biermeiers' courageous decision, lives have been changed; lives have been saved. The Biermeiers have since received a letter from one of the kidney recipients. Teresa says she found comfort in the letter. And perhaps they can find some comfort, too, in thinking of Hunter watching from heaven.