A routine day of picking apples in November of 2018, ended in tragedy for Irene Leighton when her husband of 40 years, Loren, fell from a ladder and suffered a traumatic head injury. When it became clear that Loren wouldn’t survive the incident, there was no hesitation from Irene and the couple’s three daughters, Andrea, Leanne and Lindsey: they chose to donate Loren’s organs. The 62-year-old saved and healed the lives of 90 people through organ and tissue donation.
Before his passing, Loren and his youngest daughter, Lindsey, had qualified to run the Boston Marathon, but too many qualifiers that year meant marathon officials cut thousands of runners, and Lindsey missed qualifying by only 7 seconds. She called the marathon organizers and explained the situation, and received an invitation to run.
In about the last mile, Lindsey spotted a man with a photo of a young woman on his shirt and noticed that he was running for Donate LifeSM. They ended up chatting and Lindsey learned that the gentleman was running in honor of his daughter, who was also an organ donor. She asked him to cross the finish line with her, just as she had envisioned finishing the marathon with her father.
The close knit family continues to find ways to honor Loren. In 2019, Irene and her daughters traveled to California to attend the Rose Parade. As guests of Dignity Memorial® through its sponsorship of the Donate Life Rose Parade float, they helped decorate the Donate Life float, which included a floragraph portrait – made of seeds, floral and other natural materials – of Loren. Irene referred to the trip as a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” and Loren’s floragraph is specially framed in the house where Irene now lives.
The family has hosted honor runs in Loren’s name, and makes certain to talk about him when they get together, intent on keeping his memory alive. Recently, Irene booked a guided fishing trip with Loren’s favorite guide – and caught a 30-pound chinook salmon!
While Irene hasn’t met any of the recipients of Loren’s organs or tissues, she appreciated receiving a letter from another kidney recipient. The recipient expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the family’s decision to donate, and vowed to take good care of the donor kidney that saved her life.
Dignity Memorial is a proud partner of Donate Life America and is committed to raising awareness of the lifesaving gifts of organ and tissue donation. As part of our belief in celebrating the significance of life, we encourage you to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. If you aren’t yet registered as a donor, visit RegisterMe.org/Dignity