In honor of National DMV Appreciation Month, we are honored to share this submitted story about donor hero Ryan Stoway, who believed so much in organ, eye and tissue donation that he enthusiastically said “yes” to joining the registry when he received his permit to drive. Our thanks to Ryan’s mother, Alexis Stoway, for sharing this beautiful story:
“Ryan was a 14-year-old boy with dreams of joining the military or following in his dad’s footsteps as an electrician. He was a born protector, helper and caregiver. He saw what most people didn’t and never hesitated to lend a hand to those who needed him. He had tremendous love for his family, and nothing was more important to him than being with his family and his friends, whom he also thought of as family. He showed such pride to be a part of each and every one of their lives.
He loved being outdoors. Fishing was a passion he shared with his Poppa, uncle and friends. He LOVED playing football! He even liked practicing and off-season training. He enjoyed learning, getting better and stronger each day. Ryan was a 6-foot, 280-pound teddy bear when he wasn’t on the football field. It was often he needed Mom time (yep — he still needed a cuddle). He pulled out the M&M’S® and put on a favorite movie of mine, ‘Top Gun’ or ‘Secretariat,’ and asked me to watch with him.
Ryan always believed in organ donation. He personally saw how organ donation saves and changes lives. When he was 5, his sister received a kidney transplant (she was 3). When he got his permit to drive, he asked the lady taking his picture to redo his permit because it didn’t say he was a donor, and he wanted it on there. When he showed his dad and me, it seemed like he was prouder to be an organ donor than he was that he had passed his test. We were so proud he made that decision all on his own.
When he was finishing his freshman year of high school, he asked me why people had to wait so long for transplants since so many people died every day. I told him not everyone was a donor. He got upset and told me that for his senior project, he was going to tell as many people as possible how organ and tissue donation changes people’s lives. In fact, his exact words were that it ‘changes families’ lives’ and ‘allows people to live a life without jerks making fun of them for being different.’ I sat stunned and cried at my teenage son’s understanding of the difference a selfless choice can make.
It was a little over a month after that conversation that he was in a tragic accident and passed away. They were unable to restart his heart, so his tissues and eyes were donated. He was able to fulfill his wish to be a donor. His sister will take every step with him for the rest of her life, as she was a recipient of one of his tendons, repairing a birth defect in her knee.
We all know Ryan was truly honored to become a donor hero to as many people as he could. I believe he dances in heaven every single time someone gets a part of him, giving them a better quality of life!”