I haven’t written much about my younger brother who died several years ago. Jeff needed a heart transplant and unfortunately he didn’t receive one in time. It was a whirlwind to go through. He was in and out of ICU for three years before his time came.
My parents and I wanted to honor him, but didn’t know what it looked like. Truth be told, it took almost a decade before we were ready to do anything. Losing a son/brother is devastating.
And then it happened – we came up with an idea and we knew it was the right one.
Before I get into it, let me tell you about Jeff’s experience and our experience. After all, the ENTIRE family is involved in an organ transplant. Jeff was supposed to get his heart transplant in Birmingham, AL. But we lived in Atlanta. Our first thought was, “Where will we stay?”
We knew we wanted to be as close to him as possible, but the logistics were a source of stress. Jeff, on the other hand, was confined to a small hospital bed (he was 6′ 3″). His feet always hung off the end of the bed and we spent a lot of time making sure he was comfortable.
The hospital and team of doctors ultimately decided Jeff would receive his transplant in Atlanta. So, the Evans family, the ENTIRE family, was lucky. Even today the thought of how we would have handled Jeff being moved to Birmingham is just too much.
Jeff ended up passing away before a heart was ready (that’s a whole nother’ story, and one I aim to remedy). But again, our family had the luxury of living a short distance away from St. Joseph’s Hospital. For many families that is not the case. Living in a big city like Atlanta has its perks…perks that families in more rural areas don’t have, like being able to drive a few minutes to see a sick loved one.
Back to our idea of honoring Jeff. We want to build houses where families can stay while waiting on a family member to have an organ transplant. We quickly found out there is a MASSIVE need for these places all around the U.S.
My parents and I recently met with a lot of people in the organ transplant space. From Emory University to Piedmont Hospital to the GA Transplant Foundation (my Dad was friends with the founder). When the Evans’ decide on something we go at it with everything we have until it happens. Passion is powerful!
We’ve learned a TON in a short period of time. And as of today it looks like we’ll be working with Piedmont Hospital in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. They have a need that we believe we can help (i.e. raise capital).
In the end it’s about one thing: making sick people and their families feel better.
So what is the Evans family going to do? First, we’re going to build comfortable facilities around the country for patients and their families. Second, we’re going to raise organ transplant awareness on a national scale (think Susan G. Komen).
I’ve thought long and hard about my true intentions with the Healthcare Leadership program at Brown and why I’ve felt attracted to it since I first heard about it. The Lord has been leading me down His path for several years and it’s starting to come together. I believe I could make a MASSIVE difference in this particular part of healthcare and the HMHL program will help.
It’s a long road though…we’re talking about raising tens of millions of dollars, possibly hundreds of millions, not to mention raising national awareness around an issue largely ignored by masses. But I’ve dreamt up big things before and watched my wildest dreams come true, so I expect to it happen again with a lot of intentional hard work.
I’ll keep everyone who reads this blog abreast on what developes. I’m optimistic and excited!
Mom & Dad before a meeting with the board of the Georgia Transplant Foundation.
Sincerely, The Graduate (at Brown)