Voices of Donation
Donated tissue can dramatically improve the quality of life for recipients and even save lives. This is thanks to the generous gift of life given by thousands of donors each year. We hope that these stories of how tissue donation and transplantation have touched the lives of others will inspire you.
Ryan Michael Jolley passed away at just five days old. He was born with severe Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen.
Ryan was Ashlee Hammac’s second son. Her pregnancy with Ryan was normal until she reached 34 weeks, when she suffered from a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), a mini stroke.
On October 11, 2013, Ashlee gave birth to Ryan. Ashlee said Ryan wasn’t crying, and the nurses were doing chest compressions on him. Over an hour later a nurse told Ashlee that they were able to get Ryan’s heart beating, but he was having a hard time breathing. He was flown to Shands at the University of Florida where the doctors there diagnosed him with HIE, giving him a one-in-eight chance of survival.
“I rubbed Ryan’s little arm and told him that I was there and that I loved him,” Ashlee said. “They thought it might be the end, so they worked around all the cords and machines to let me hold my baby for the first time,” Ashlee said.
Things seemed like they were getting better, but doctors worried that Ryan might have brain damage because he wasn’t responding to pain like he should be. An MRI the next day confirmed their suspicions; Ryan had severe brain damage and would never recover.
After receiving this news, Ashlee said they spent as much time as possible with him reading him books, giving him a bath and taking pictures.
“We knew that we would have to say goodbye, but our hearts broke to have to make that decision,” Ashlee said. “It was the hardest decision a mother could ever have to make.”
On Ryan’s last day, his big brother came to meet him for the first time, as well as to say goodbye. At the end of the day, Ashlee said they all sang “You Are My Sunshine.”
Ashlee described her son as a beautiful angel, and when she was asked about donation, she said yes.
“Ryan touched many lives in his short five days, and knowing he could help another baby and another family not have to go through what we did made me want to donate,” Ashlee said.
Ashlee said that while Ryan’s loss is devastating, the kindness and generosity of others through their donations offers a glimmer of hope for other families facing similar situations.
Ashlee said Ryan was laid to rest by a beautiful wooden church. “Someday, we will join him in that same cemetery where we can be together as a family again.”