Family of boy killed at Disney World urges different grieving dad and mom to think about organ donation

A Nebraska couple whose 2-year-old son died tragically at Walt Disney World almost 5 years in the past desires extra households to think about donating their kids’s organs if their little one is ever dealing with dying.

Matt and Melissa Graves created the Lane Thomas Foundation after their son was killed by an alligator in 2016. The Omaha couple mentioned they determined to concentrate on pediatric organ donation as a result of they wished to assist different households preventing for his or her kids’s lives and so they wished to assist youngsters as a result of their son cherished different kids.

“Because we all know the ache of dropping a baby, we wished to concentrate on a problem the place we imagine we will help forestall different dad and mom from realizing our ache. We selected pediatric organ donation as a result of we noticed these households combating very restricted assets to care for his or her kids,” Matt and Melissa Graves mentioned in a press release.


Lane Thomas Graves was enjoying on a seashore exterior Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in June 2016 when an alligator grabbed him and dragged him into the lake. He was gathering sand for a sand fort when the alligator attacked. Matt Graves jumped into the water however was unable to rescue his son. Lane’s physique was discovered 16 hours later.

At Disney World, a sculpture of a lighthouse much like the one the inspiration makes use of as its brand was later erected close to the place Lane was killed.

Lane Thomas Graves, of Omaha, Nebraska, died in 2016 after an alligator attacked him at Walt Disney World in Orlando. (Lane Thomas Foundation through AP)

Matt and Melissa Graves say they need dad and mom to speak about organ donation lengthy earlier than they ever face the unthinkable prospect of their little one dying.

“No mother or father is ready to lose a baby ever. The loss is insufferable,” Matt Graves mentioned. “Organ donation might seem to be a tough option to make. … But individuals who donate their little one’s organs are heroes.”


The Graves household’s basis is shifting past the small-scale donations it has been making thus far to households with kids present process transplants in Omaha to boost consciousness nationally concerning the want for pediatric organ donation. They cite statistics saying that roughly 100, of the almost 2,000 kids on the nationwide transplant ready record, die annually whereas ready. Finding transplant organs for youngsters is difficult as a result of the pool of donors is so small.

“The actual and ever-present concern the inspiration is making an attempt to handle is … the donor organ availability which is markedly restricted,” mentioned University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey Gold, who serves on the inspiration’s board.

This Feb. 24, 2021 photo provided by the Lane Thomas Foundation shows Lauressa Gillock, left, of North Platte, Nebraska, meeting with a Mississippi boy, KeVon Long, in Louisiana, who received her daughter's heart after her organs were donated. Gillock is part of a campaign the Lane Thomas Foundation organized to promote pediatric organ donation. (Lane Thomas Foundation via AP)

This Feb. 24, 2021 photograph offered by the Lane Thomas Foundation reveals Lauressa Gillock, left, of North Platte, Nebraska, assembly with a Mississippi boy, KeVon Long, in Louisiana, who acquired her daughter’s coronary heart after her organs have been donated. Gillock is a part of a marketing campaign the Lane Thomas Foundation organized to advertise pediatric organ donation. (Lane Thomas Foundation through AP)

Even although the inspiration is small, Gold mentioned he believes it could possibly get extra folks to think about organ donation with its plan to inform the tales of fogeys who donated their kid’s organs and the households that acquired them, and that may make a distinction.

“Anything that may be executed to cut back time on these ready lists for each for adults and youngsters shall be lifesaving and produce a stress aid that’s immeasurable,” Gold mentioned.

The basis, which has almost $5 million in property and two part-time staff, created a public service announcement centered on Lauressa Gillock of North Platte, Nebraska, assembly the now 7-year-old boy from McComb, Mississippi, who acquired her daughter’s coronary heart. Gillock mentioned organ donation helped ease the ache of dropping her 3-year-old daughter to mind most cancers in 2015 as a result of she knew her daughter’s organs helped 5 folks.

“I’m so grateful that I’ve this to assist me in my grief course of,” Gillock mentioned. “It’s such an honor to have been a part of that call and to know that these households have been pleading for a savior and my daughter was the savior. What higher honor.”


Since the inspiration was created, it has helped pay journey and dwelling bills for almost 100 households being handled in Omaha. That included donating $112,275 to 30 households in 2019, in accordance with the inspiration’s tax varieties.

Families of kids getting transplants usually should spend weeks or months in Omaha after an operation, and the lengthy restoration time usually forces one mother or father to take depart from their job or give up to be with the kid. Gillock mentioned these grants actually assist households.

“The Lane Thomas Foundation is wonderful to assist these households which are going by means of organ donation to not fear about financials. It ought to by no means be a problem when your little one is on their deathbed. Never,” she mentioned.

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