Struggling between grief, gratitude in the gift of life

Struggling between grief and gratitude in the gift of life

Tara Chamberlain is a proud mom. And Izayah is her extra-special son.

"He's a typical kid. He likes to play video games and hang out with his friends," said Tara. "We were always told that as he got older his kidneys would eventually fail."

Izayah was born with a urological disorder called Prune Belly Syndrome which affects his kidneys. By age 12, he was on a transplant list. By 13, he was on dialysis three times per week.

"When I started missing school, it was really hard for me to catch up," said Izayah, who eventually received a kidney through a pediatric donor.

"It was on January 8, 2015," said his mom. "That's his 'Kidney-versary."The call they'd been waiting for was bittersweet.

"Izayah and I prayed for the family. We still think about them," said Tara. "We understand what they're going through."

Her son chimed in.

"We understand because I had a brother, but I was only two so I never even got to know him that much."

Christian was Izayah's big brother.

"In 2003, my son Christian and I were involved in a car accident," recalled Tara. "It was a head-on collision. Unfortunately, Christian suffered brain trauma... and we had to take him off life support."

Before they did, Tara told doctors that she wanted to donate her son's organs. "We donated his kidneys, his eyes, his heart valves and his liver," said Tara.

"This could be children who are days old or young adults-- so there's a wide range of ages," said Kelli Triplett, licensed psychologist with Children's Health. Triplett counsels families whose children are waiting for transplants.

"For parents I hear that there's a lot of guilt sometimes," said Triplett. "A lot of -- 'I feel guilty that I'm waiting for someone else's child to die so that my child can survive'-- and that's a very normal feeling to have in this situation."

Tara can empathize. She has straddled the line between gratitude and grief. For Christian. And for Izayah.

"Izayah is able to thrive and be a child again and have a life that he wasn't able to have before," said Tara.

Click here for more information on registering as an organ donor.

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