WILMINGTON — Almost two years after her son’s death, Shelby LaPine is keeping up her advocacy for organ and tissue donation. In fact, she says, “This mama’s just getting started.”
LaPine, mother of organ donor Luke LaPine, was a featured speaker at a recent CMH community education event on the topic of understanding organ and tissue donation.
Luke was working with the Clinton County Highway Department when he suffered severe head trauma on the job on June 9, 2014 from a fall off a truck. He was 19 and had just graduated from East Clinton High School and intended to go to college in California with the goal of becoming a Los Angeles Police Department detective.
Four days after the accident, he was declared brain dead.
His mother shared information and stories about the power of organ donation and transplantation at the Life: Pass It On presentation May 19 at Clinton Memorial Hospital.
She said although the void left by Luke’s death will never be filled, she is “starting to have more good days than I was.”
That shift is largely because she knows Luke has helped or saved more than 75 people, including a 2-year-old burn victim, she said.
“That makes me smile, helping that little baby,” said LaPine.
The passing of time has held opportunities to meet recipients of Luke’s organs. That includes heart recipient Bill Repp of Canal Winchester, Ohio at an October 2015 meeting in the Wilmington Church of God, as well as a kidney recipient and family of one of the liver recipients at other times.
At the October occasion, Shelby and others listened with a stethoscope to Luke’s heartbeat inside of Mr. Repp.
At the CMH talk, she said she had just written to Luke’s lung recipient and had not heard back yet.
“That’s the one other organ I can feel and hear,” she said.
“I’m a mom who lost their kid. Most moms don’t get to hear their child’s heart beat again. You bury their heart with them. I feel so lucky that I’m able to hear Luke’s heart. And it’s so strong, and Bill’s had zero rejections,” said LaPine.
“They always say your loved one lives on,” she said. “But he really does, he really physically does.”
A Live for Luke scholarship has been initiated, and earlier this month a graduating East Clinton senior received a $1,000 award. The young woman plans to pursue criminal justice, the same field Luke was interested in.
“I promised him when he died, I wouldn’t let anybody forget him, and get awareness [concerning organ donation] out there,” she said.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.