Pamela and Bruce Endo are both a donor family and recipient family. Pamela had been diabetic since the age of seven, well over 46 years, when her kidneys failed. Daily insulin injections, sugar level testing, rigid meal planning and meal times were a part of her daily life. Then she added dialysis treatments three times a week to her routine.
On the waiting list for a kidney and pancreas transplant, Pam was feeling despair and resignation on the morning of March 24, 2005. As she had for every hour of every day, Pam was waiting for a call – a call that would change her life. She stepped out for a bit and when she returned home, there was a message on her answering machine. Her transplant center had called and her wait was over. Later that night she received a new kidney and pancreas – eliminating her need for dialysis and insulin shots. “That single day made all the difference in my life. I went from profound despair to profound joy that day. But this physical and emotional transformation was only made possible because of a complete stranger, someone I did not know whose grieving family gave me my miracle. You see, this wonderful 39-year-old woman whose organs I received had taken the time to sign her donor card and by doing so, saved my life. Without her and her family, I would not be standing here today. I thank her every day, and I hope to honor her and her gift of life.”
But the Endo’s connection to organ donation and the transplant community didn’t begin in 2005. It began 24 years earlier.
Andrew Endo, born January 7, 1981, was a miracle baby to parents Bruce and Pam. As a diabetic, Pam had endured a difficult, high-risk pregnancy, and Andy was delivered prematurely by C-section. He quickly progressed into a cuddly, happy baby. That Easter, the only holiday he experienced, he entertained the family with laughs and smiles. At four months old, just two days after being pronounced in perfect health at a physical, Bruce and Pam received a terrible call summoning them to the hospital. Andy had stopped breathing during a nap and couldn’t be revived. He had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In the midst of their indescribable grief, Bruce and Pam were asked to donate organ and tissue samples for ongoing SIDS research. All they could think of was how their lives had been tragically changed with the loss of their precious baby and – with the idea that others could be spared the grief of such a loss – they said yes. To the Endos, it felt like the right thing to do and they have never regretted their decision. Andrew was a child who, for a too-short time, brightened the lives of all who met him, and his legacy is the possibility that he helped in some small way to reduce the current incidence of SIDS. He inspired his parents and his siblings, Amy and AJ, to actively support organ and tissue donation.More Stories