Catherine Mack of Lansdale, PA, displays a small reminder of hope, pride, and loss on her arm. A tattoo of the number 8484 and five strikes represent a day that she considers the worst in her life and the positive legacy that day left behind.
“The 8484 represents each day my brother was alive,” Catherine says. “Each slash represents one of the gifts of life he was able to donate. It symbolizes that each day he was alive was a gift, and to remind me to see the positive in his every day.”
In October 2016, Catherine’s brother, Jack Mack, lost his life to a drug relapse, but he still lives on through the five recipients who received a second chance at life because of his choice to become an organ donor.
“The 8484 represents each day my brother was alive.” — Catherine Mack.
“Jack didn’t let his addiction rob him of his selfless nature,” Catherine says. “On Jack’s darkest days, he was still looking to be a light for someone else. He sought out the people who needed him the most. He was the most compassionate person I’ve ever known.”
Catherine had seen Jack’s I.D. days prior to his passing and noticed the words “organ donor”— words that made reappearance the day of his passing on a sign in the hospital. At the time Catherine thought little of it, but those words gave rise to a hero on her worst day.
“On the worst day of her life, my mom’s eyes smiled,” Catherine says, recalling the moment she told her mother and siblings, Ashley and Robby, how Jack’s selfless, giving personality would not end with his passing. “We all felt so proud that Jack’s heart of gold would live on in someone else.”
The news of five successful recipients reached Catherine through a text message from her mom while she sat in the emergency room with her grandmother— just hours after her brother’s passing. She had seen a friend in the waiting room who had given his condolences, and at the moment she received the message, she ran to his room, uncontrollably smiling.
“My baby brother saved five people,” Catherine told her friend. She went on to say that despite her brother’s struggle with addiction, he died a hero.
Jack’s ability to give and to save others is exactly what he would have wanted, as told by his family and his decision to register. By registering to be a donor, all of Jack’s good deeds and his selfless personality became his legacy.
“I can’t walk you through all the good things Jack did in his life,” Catherine says. “His decision to donate, him saving lives, is like a certificate of all the good he did in his life. It makes me wonder if everyone who was suffering from drug addiction was a donor, how people would view them differently.”
Catherine and the entire Mack family now advocate for awareness of the importance of organ donation every day. They make an effort to volunteer and speak out in any way possible to support all those suffering from addiction, including their families.
The Mack family attributes Jack’s decision to register as an organ donor as a source of comfort and healing through their grieving process. Catherine says that those who are not registered should consider how it helps their loved ones and allows for a positive image to be left behind for the family to remember.
“I am so thankful for a small moment, my brother checking that box at the DMV,” Catherine says. “It scares me to think what my grieving process would have been without this. If you don’t want to register to save someone you don’t know, do it for your loved ones.”