PRESCOTT, Wis. (WCCO) — A year ago, Jason and Jami Flannigan were expecting their fourth child.
Rian was born on Dec. 2. Eighteen days later, his mom Jami, died. Through his grief Jason has found reason to celebrate.
Jami’s gift of organ donation has helped four people see another Christmas.
Still, Jason is still grieving.
The past year has been rough, raising four children without his wife.
He hopes the story of his wife’s gift of five organs to four people she didn’t know, sparks conversation during holiday gatherings about organ donation.
“This time of year is hard but I’m determined to have a good Christmas,” Jason said.
Jason’s Prescott, Wis. home is full of holiday cheer.
“I’ve had Christmas lights up two weeks before Thanksgiving,” he said.
He felt the need to make this Christmas special for 11-year-old Jada, 3-year-old Liam, 2-year-old Kaitlyn and 1-year-old Rian because last Christmas was a blur — it was a week before Jami died from an aneurysm.
“My 2-year-old, she’ll point at pictures and say, ‘mama’ and yes, that is mama, of course. My youngest was only 18 days old when she died. How do you tell a 3-year-old that his mom is not coming home,” Jason said.
Jason said his children are the greatest gift Jami has ever given him and her organs have been a life-saving gift to others.
“There is a 63-year-old man from Minnesota who had an enlarged heart and he received her whole heart,“ he said.
Another man in Minnesota received Jami’s kidney and pancreas, the other kidney went to a woman who lives in the south.
A man in Montana got Jami’s liver and her donated tissue has helped more than 40 others.
Jason said he is grateful that Jami gave so many a chance to enjoy the holidays.
“Circumstances are that she’s not with us but she let that person be there and that’s a big deal. That’s a really big deal. That’s a really big deal,“ Jason said.
More than 2.3 million Minnesotans have registered to be an organ and tissue donor representing half of licensed drivers and ID card holders.
One person can save and heal up to 60 lives.
Right now, more than 2,700 Minnesotans are waiting for that gift of life.
For more information on how you help, click here.
WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman Reports