Karen Goodwin (KG) and Marlene Shay (MS)
Karen Goodwin (KG): Can you tell me about the day Adam died?
Marlene Shay (MS): He had been in and out of rehab over the last three years, but he had been sober for a year and seemingly had it all together. But, as a mother, you always dread that call. And that day, we got a call from his fiancée that he overdosed and was slipping away.
KG: Well, you know, if it wasn’t for Adam, I wouldn’t be here.
MS: I know.
KG: When I got the call to come in, they said, ’The reason you have this donor is because he OD’d on heroin.’ And right after I had my transplant — I was still in the hospital even — my sister brought me a copy of Adam’s obit. And she said, ‘I think this is your donor. Your donor’s 21 and this kid’s 21 and look at all these similarities.’
But I wanted to wait to talk to you because I knew the most chance of rejection would be in the first year, and if Adam’s organs failed, I felt like it would almost be like you losing him and then losing another part of him.
But also, because I knew he was a recovering addict, I had the opportunity to give Adam that year of clean time and give that back as a gift to you.
MS: Then your beautiful letter came and you told us about, you know, your addiction. And it was just this gentle reassurance that came over me that this is going to be okay. And I will say again, thank you.
KG: For all purposes, I should’ve died a long time ago. And so I’ve always felt the responsibility to stay clean and sober to myself and my family, but now it’s like I have another family to stay clean for.