Mason was Kellie Hess’ first child. He was a sweet child who slept through the night, and what his mother refers to as a “godsend.” Everywhere Mason went, people were drawn to him. He would wave to everyone and say hello, letting his friendly nature shine.
Tragedy struck this loving family when Mason suffered fatal injuries in 2012 at 14 months old. His parents were left with a decision that no one wants to make. Should Mason become an organ donor? In the midst of their grief, they said ‘yes’ to donation. They were able to look beyond their own pain, so no other parent would have to feel the depth of loss that they were experiencing. Through their selflessness, Mason was able to save the lives of four others.
“It’s important for us that Mason saved lives. We want to keep his memory alive and are proud of his legacy.” said Kellie. “My husband and I both had the same thought, even before Gift of Life spoke with us at the hospital. We wanted Mason to be a donor. Something in my heart told me that we had to do it.”
Today, the family keeps Mason’s memory alive through sharing his story and participating in the Donor Dash, an event that raises awareness and funding for organ and tissue donation. “In Mason’s short time on earth, he was able to do more than many can achieve in a lifetime. Because Mason was a donor, we are able to see the direct impact that he’s had on others. So many people come up to my husband and I and say that they registered as an organ donor because of Mason. He is still impacting people today, which makes our Dash team name so fitting, Mason’s Mission.” Since 2013, Mason’s Mission has raised more than $20,000 in support of donation.
Kellie said, “We don’t want to focus on Mason being gone or how he died. We want to focus on the positive, and that’s what donation has allowed us to do. We went from darkness to light because of it.” It was important for Kellie to know that Mason’s recipients were healthy and doing well, but they never dreamed of what would come next.
“We don’t want to focus on Mason being gone or how he died. We want to focus on the positive, and that’s what donation has allowed us to do. We went from darkness to light because of it.” — Kellie Hess
The recipient of Mason’s lungs, an eight-year-old boy, wanted to meet them to say thank you in person. “It was emotionally packed.” said Kellie. “We are so happy that this wonderful little boy is healthy. I felt Mason’s lungs breathing in his chest.
It was raw emotion from both sides, and it showed me the major impact that donation has. We felt such a bond with him.”
They’ve heard back from three of Mason’s four recipients, and are so grateful to know that they are doing well. Kellie credits her faith for allowing her to remain positive, and is grateful for the constant support of her family and friends. She is also the mother of Faith, 3.
Each year, Kellie, along with her family and friends, celebrate Mason’s life and the gifts that he gave, at the Donor Dash. They participate under the team name “Mason’s Mission.” The Dash is a great opportunity for Dashers to honor donors, like Mason, to celebrate the lives of recipients and to raise awareness about the more than 5,300 men, women and children in Gift of Life’s region (the eastern half of PA, southern NJ and DE) who are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant.