Mom's Gift...A Reunion
Story by Fran Kelsen and Jim Gleason, photography
by Joel Lerner
poetry by Roy Huddleston and Trish Dockery
Impressions of the Coffee House/Poetry Reading,
by Nick Dean
Donor Family Events During the Games ,
by Willa Pilcher
Willa Pilcher's reports on Wednesday - Thursday
- Friday - Saturday
Rob and Trish Dockery of Blairsville, Georgia, await their first meeting
with Roy Huddleston, the recipient of Rob's mother's heart.
Team West Tennessee, is one year posttransplant on August 15, 1998.
Because of his life-saving transplant Roy was able to meet his first
friends take a moment to thank God for the miracle that has taken
by the moment, Roy and wife Kay, meet Rob, Roy's donor family. Rob
has also met his mother's kidney pancreas recipient, Chris Smith,
with whom he now speaks on the phone.
Chris Smith (center) recieved a kidney and pancreas from Rob's mother.
Chris and his mother recently spent the weekend at the Dockery's home
Before her death from a brain aneurysm at age 50, Archie Sue Maxton was
a salesperson at Walmart. Her family made the brave decision to donate
her organs. Since that time, her son Rob and his wife Trish have formed
new family ties with two of the recipients of Archie's organs. Chris Smith,
age 31, was confined to a wheelchair and was blind until he received Archie's
kidney and pancreas. He can now walk and has vision during the day, a
true miracle of science and made possible by the generosity of strangers
with a strong faith and big hearts. Rob now calls Chris' mother "mom"
and he and Trish talk to Chris on the phone daily. Both Rob and Trish
truly feel that they have new family and have become linked to those that
have received Archie's gift.
Roy Huddleston, the recipient of Archie's heart, is 55. Upon receiving
a letter from Rob and Trish, Roy decided to contact them and invite them
to the US Transplant Games in Columbus. He mailed them two fabric hearts:
one with "Trish" written on it and another with "Rob."
Roy asked them to take the hearts to church and to pray on them that God
would give him strength during the Games. Roy will be celebrating his
one year anniversary of transplant on August 15 with a large birthday
party. Roy said, "Every moment of every day is a privilege to be
here with a group of people that have had the courage to give or have
faced near death. To be here with such support and love is overwhelming."
Jim Gleason, A heart transplant recipient from Team Philadelphia, was
present at the first in-person meeting of Roy Huddleston with his donor
family. He recalls the conversation he had with Trish before the momentous
"Trish, Rob's new wife, couldn't believe how natural it felt when
they met Chris, Rob's mother's kidney/pancreas recipient several weeks
ago. It was like they had always known each other. But even with that,
today was a nervous moment. They were here at the US Transplant Games,
waiting under the trees outside the OSU library for the anticipated
moment of meeting their heart recipient Roy Huddleston, from Team West
Tennessee. Team Tennessee was having a picnic and using the opportunity
to surprise Roy with this meeting. Roy knew that he was going to meet
his donor family at the Games; after all, it was he who had invited
them to come. He didn't know exactly when that meeting would be, however.
Now the moment was close at hand.
"We passed the minutes in conversation to ease the anticipation.
Talking with Trish and Rob, awaiting meeting their heart recipient,
the conversation had quickly come around to her interest, supported
by all the miracles transplants had made possible around her here, of
being a living donor herself. We talked about the rapid advances that
are being made in living liver transplantation. 'Who knows what will
be possible tomorrow,' we had said. The subject of our conversation
that afternoon was actually featured on the next morning's news as reality.
(On the first day of the Games the morning news featured the world's
first adult nonblood-related living liver transplant. It was a story
of love and success from Virginia where a wife's liver was divided to
give a life-saving transplant. Now a week later, they were smiling and
laughing at the joy they were feeling.) So here was that breakthrough,
the very next day after our loving conversation in Columbus, Ohio at
the Transplant Games. Maybe Trish will be able to give that gift someday,
even sooner than we expected."
During the course of the Games the Huddlestons and the Dockerys have
become inseperable. They have been seen at events cheering on their athlete,
and eating meals together. This is clearly the beginning of a close long-term
relationship that will continue long after the torch from the Games extinguishes.
This story is just one of many donor family and recipient meetings taking
place at the Games. There just isn't enough space to cover all of the
love being shared at this important event.
Roy and Trish read a selection of the poems they
have written at the Coffee House/Poetry Reading.
You can also read some of their poetry below.