Woman who lost husband says his ‘Gifts of Hope’ gave others a second-chance at life

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SALT LAKE CITY – In this week’s edition of Gift of Hope we meet a wife and mother who was dealt a terrible loss but has found solace in educating others about organ donation.

About seven months ago, Deb Coffey and her husband, Dean, were in their kitchen when Dean had a stroke. The 50-year-old man was rushed to the hospital.

“The surgeon came out of the [operating room] to talk to me, and he gently told me that he did everything I could," she said.

Coffey said her husband lived every day to give back to others, so in this horrible situation she wanted to do something good. She and her children said yes to organ donation.

“My children were extremely strong and extremely brave through this process, and organ donation for them was kind of a life line to hold on to," she said.

Three weeks later, Coffey got a letter from the man who received Dean’s heart.

“I immediately connected to this man," she said. "All he wanted in his letter was to give his son the opportunity to have a father who is healthy, and to go and throw a ball around and do the things that dads do."

Then, she got a letter from the man who received Dean's liver, a man who happened to be a grandfather.

"It gives me so much joy and motivation to keep going forward and do good things, especially on his behalf, on Dean's behalf," she said.

Coffey’s son is now educating others about organ donation at his junior high school.

“He had the opportunity to speak to, probably half the student body in the school," she said. "As young people, they can get on board now, they can make the decision to become an organ donor."

There are still many people in need of organ and tissue donations, and all you have to do to help is indicate “yes” on your driver’s license or state ID card. For more on organ donation, click here.

It’s also a good idea to let your family know of your decision, so your wishes can be carried out.

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