The shawl that Margarita received was lovingly created by the hospital’s knitting
group as part of its Shawl Ministry. Cozzie Watkins, an Organ Recovery Coordinator with LifeShare Of The Carolinas,
the regional organ procurement organization, helped to facilitate the shawl donations to
local families in observance of National Donate Life Month in April.
Word soon spread and before they knew it, Gaston Chaplain Cindy Sloan, a knitter, was
shipping one of the comfort shawls to Washington for the national ceremony. A donor
mother from Wisconsin who attended the ceremony is planning to start a prayer shawl
ministry for donor family members in her area.
In announcing that the shawl would be presented to Margarita, the session moderator
Michael José Cepeda Aguilar was born in New York on September 16th, 1999 and was
called to heaven 3 years later on Dec. 8th, 2002. He was born with multiple
disabilities but still was a very happy little boy. He was always smiling and so
competent. I even asked his neurologist once if he was able to cry. He said to me “That’s
a blessing; he will cry when necessary.”
A couple of months before Michael died, I saw this movie about a little boy in
California who was dying in a hospital because of the need of an immediate heart
transplant and another baby’s brain death…. the movie ended where the parents of
the brain-dead baby decided to donate the heart to the other baby. His life was saved
and both families found comfort through this donation!!!!
I cried with this movie all the way through.
Somehow I identify myself with this family’s waiting for a miracle to happen, for
a chronic condition to be cured. Always hoping for a cure to my son’s
condition, I even thought of a brain transplant (there’s not such a thing yet.) I
never thought where the brain would come from, but I thought of a brain transplant.
This movie was in my mind at all times for some strange reason. I even said to myself
once: "If one day God wants to take my little angel with him, I would consider
organ/tissue donation" -- without knowing 3 months later I would have to make the
toughest decision of my life.
Donating his heart was a very difficult decision at the time it happened. (I come
from a very traditional family in El Salvador, Central America, where organ/tissue
donation is not a theme of conversation, a school matter or something on T.V.) There’s
no way to know what a 3-year-old thinks about organ donation and I thank God for
guiding me to take the decision I took.
My son’s heart valves were transplanted to 3 different children, one of them in
I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision.
I even felt guilty at one point.
I miss my son very deeply.
He was my only baby.
But every day, I wake up thinking how beautiful it is for his soul to be in heaven
and yet still part of him to be alive on earth. I’m happy for these families who now
enjoy their children, thanks to his donation.
I thought I was on my own after he left but I know somehow he’s still around!!!
I’ve come to understand a lot!
Organ donation is not just what you give. You receive too. What you
receive is the total blessing of being able to give to others a gift, a gift of life.
When I arrived to Washington I was sad and didn't know what to expect. As the hours
went by, I felt at home surrounded with so much love and understanding -- again beyond
what words can tell. That beautiful shawl warmed me up so comfortable that night!!!!
After crying for some time, when I wrapped myself and went to sleep, believe me when I
tell you I could not only feel the softness of the shawl but the softness of the skin
of my little one. I even think it smells like him and I definitely want to believe
that this was his way to send me a hug from heaven.
I have to say I've found a little piece that was missing in my heart. I found peace
and lots of love.
On my way back, I was crying as I saw the lights of Washington from the plane. I
felt somehow I was leaving my family, but it also felt great when I realized that just
like me, hundreds of families went back home feeling in peace and with lots of
beautiful memories to share.