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Carissa Foushee

Payneville, KY

Team Kentucky

February 16, 1979 - December 07, 2009

Her Greatest Gift!

Carissa was the second of our 4 beautiful daughter, she was smart, strong and giving.  Never doing enough to help others.  Carissa and her two children were killed in a car accident. It was our first snow fall of the season and only in our area not anywhere else in the county. Carissa was coming down a steep, curvy and narrow road hit a friend of ours head-on. Rance was 6 and Adie was 2.  But Carissa being strong held on and did make it to the hospital, but when I first saw her I knew she wasn't there.  I told her, "go with your babies".  my family thought I had lost it.  Being a mom I knew even if she recovered from her injuries she would never recover from losing her babies.  I felt I had this wonderful girl for 30 years and so proud to be her mom. Just a day later we were told of brain death.  I relived a moment in my kitchen from just that summer.  Carissa was on an organ donor kick.  When she gets something in her head she did not stop until it was done.  I was half listening until she said "MOM if you have something in this house you don't want you give it to good will right?  I said of course, she said why not your organs" I then went to her husband and said we have to donate her organs, right after I said that we were shown her drivers license were she signed them, he agreed.  The funeral was unbelievable, they were all in one casket, Carissa was holding her babies at her side. Carissa loved sunflowers and it being December I was not sure if we could get sunflowers so  before closing the casket I had huge sunflowers placed all over and it looked as if they were laying in a sunflower field.   As time passed, a year later I was asked if I would like to meet her kidney and heart recipients. Of course I said yes, not knowing at the time that our local news station was doing a documentary on organ donation. I did an interview for them and believe me it was the second hardest thing I had ever done in my life, but I knew I had to do this for her. I met her heart recipient Elzerine Powell and Matt Hisle, her kidney recipient.  I was so afraid I would not be able to hear Carissa's heartbeat since I had lost so much hearing.  Carissa made sure I did!  that was my miracle, all my grief, sorrow, anger and questions why, were gone.  It was like warm water went from the top of my head to the tips of my toes taking it all with it. I was a new person, I got so much empowerment just from hearing that heartbeat.  Nothing anyone can say can make me mad. I had never been a public speaker at all.  I was one to always stand back but the very next day before church/mass I walked up to the alter and ask our priest if I could address the congregation after mass to speak about organ donation, he said yes.  After mass I told all about my experience. I was so proud of myself knowing Carissa was right there with me.  I did it without crying too, but there was not a dry eye in the church. I was fine until I walked back to my seat my neighbor came over and put her arm around me.  One year after their deaths I was reading the obituaries in our county paper and say a beautiful blonde the age and date smacked me hard! 30 and 12/07/10 and saw she was an organ donor.  I knew right then I needed to write her mother a letter.  I can't remember what I wrote and cried the entire time. I remember seeing her mother's name Vicky Doyle at the bank so I mailed the letter to the bank.  We finally met at an Organ Donor Ambassador training and have been together every since. Vicky is my best friend and rock. Vicky still has that letter.    She knew my daughter but not me.  We travel everywhere we can telling our daughters stories and promoting organ donation.  We are so proud of them.  In 2010, when we started promoting organ donation our county was only 31% signed donors since then we are at 51% signed. In April (Donate Life) month we always have a display at our public library and attend the flag raising at U of L Hospital where are daughters were. We are also on the Donor Family Counsel that helps make decisions for our state, we attend Second Chance @ Life meetings, at first they did not know what to think about donor moms coming because it was always recipients but believe me when I say it was the best therapy we could have.  They helped us as much as we helped them.  They better understand from the donors side.  We are huge  participants for Team KY.  We go above and beyond to raise funds to get our team to the Transplant Games of America and is the only fully-funded team.  We are so proud of this.  There is a group of us (6) donor Moms {we call ourselves Donor Sisters) that have taken on the silent auction items. We have no problem with people telling us 'no' but after hearing our stories it really hard for them to say that.  We love our recipients and have learned so much from them as they have from us.  As a donor family member, there should be no boundaries between donors and recipients.  We are hear for the same reason, to honor all donors.  My first games was in Houston and I can tell you that was the most rewarding time ever.  We met so many amazing people and we plan on not missing a single one.  As Donor Sisters we often take road trips just to be together.  We laugh, cry, and talk all we want about our loved ones.  Usually if you see one of us at an event, you will see all of us and everyone always says the party is here.  We've learned that no matter what Life gives you God has a plan and we believe that God brought us all tougher for comfort to each other.  When we see another donor mom struggling, we reach out to help her.  Our small group is growing.  Last fall we had a Life Group on grief.  I felt if we would help one person it was worth it.  It was a success.  I often wondered and asked how do you grieve for three?  I found out you can't, but I never think of one without thinking of the other two.  I do make their birthdays "their day."  On a Happy Note, my son-n-law who lost everything is now married.  He met his future wife at the funeral of her husband who worked with him that following spring.  They consoled each other and fell in love.  He is and always will be our son-n-law and I now have a daughter-n-law.  They only had each other, no children.  Having four girls I never imagined having a daughter-n-law. Only family was invited to their wedding in Gulf Shores and we were invited.  It was a beautiful beach wedding.  Yes, it was bittersweet but beautiful.  That was 3 years ago and this past Christmas we received the most exciting news!!  Were going to be grandparents in June.  A little boy! We are over the moon happy.  We just finished making him a John Deere tractor toy box for the baby shower.  He always said he did not want any kids and I understood because his hurt was just too deep.  But I prayed he would change his mind is time.  I can tell you this,  GOD DOES ONLY GIVE YOU WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE and I did question him until I heard that AMAZING HEARTBEAT that changed my life.  Organ Donation not only saves lives it saves families.  I had to be the strong one because my family was falling apart and I had no idea how to fix it but Carissa did.  That's just who she was........