DEREL BAKER CHARLES DUPLANTIS
Our family has been on both sides of the “Donor List Fence”. When our oldest daughter, Phyllis was 29, she needed a kidney transplant. She was a juvenile diabetic since the age of 8. Her kidneys failed and she was placed on dialysis. Our son, Brendan who was only 22 at the time, donated his kidney to his sister. All three of our boys matched her in all five criteria so any one of them could have donated a kidney to her. She lived 12 years longer because of her brother’s love. She died in 2004 due to other complications.
Derel was our first son (we have five children; two girls, Phyllis and Michelle, and three boys, Derel, Brendan and Joel). Derel has 3 daughters, Danielle, Sydney and Shaylyn. His life revolved around his girls and his Duplantis Roofing business. I call him “The Wind”, because he blew in and out of our house several times a day to check on all of us. Derel was the kind of son whom any parent could be proud of. He worked hard and he loved his family and friends. He just found out that his two oldest girls were both expecting his first grand-babies, a boy for Danielle and Josh, and a girl for Sydney and Shane. He couldn’t have been happier! Danielle gave birth to Ashton Paul on my birthday, August 9th and Sydney gave birth to Kennedie Ruth on September 5. They are wonderful mothers.
Derel had been living at our home for several months before he died of an aneurysm. During those times I was able to have some deep conversations with him and I’m grateful for those times. One particular day he told me, “Mama, if something happens to me, I want to be buried at Rev. Sims’ church, I want their choir to sing and I would like Rev. Sims to preach, I love those services. And”, he continued, “I don’t want you to cry because I will be happy.” Little did we know that a few days later we would be there in that church, with the beautiful music and preaching or Rev. Sims.
Derel was an organ donor. It was good that he signed the paper ahead of time because it made it so much easier for all of us, knowing those were his wishes. It was so like Derel, to continue giving, even after death. Just before his funeral, I told his daughter Sydney, “Your daddy was like the story of “The Giving Tree”. He gave and gave, and continued giving until the end and now he is giving even more."
We received a letter from LOPA; they are the organ procurement people in New Orleans. They told us the sex and age of the persons receiving Derel’s organs but that was all. They said we could write a letter which would be sent to those who received his organs and if the ones who received his organs wanted to contact us, they could do that. So, I wrote the letter, telling them about our son and what kind of person he was. We received our first reply from Dave Marcotte. Dave received one of Derel’s kidneys. We made arrangements for Dave and his wife Barbara to come to Houma, from Myrtle Grove to meet us. I cooked dinner and some of the in-town family came to meet them. At the end of the day, they presented us with a beautiful orange tree (the symbol so fitting) for our 'Giving Tree’ son. The orange tree is grafted with three kinds of oranges, there again fitting because of all the people being ‘grafted’ into our family at this time. Also, they gave us a beautiful memory plaque beside the tree.
Our family celebrates Christmas one week before Christmas because two of our children live in the Fort Walton/Destin area and one son lives near Katy, Texas. I received a call from LOPA, saying that the recipient of Derel’s heart, Tyronne Cooper wanted to meet us. I immediately called him and invited all of his family to come meet our family during our Christmas celebration. I also invited Dave and Barbara to come back and also contacted Debra Valure, who received Derel’s liver and other kidney and we invited her also. I didn’t tell anyone about this surprise, except Derel’s daughters, Sydney, who lives with us and his daughter Shaylyn because she is a hostess at Copeland’s and needed to take time off to be there. Other than that, it was a total surprise. My husband plays “Santa” during this time of the year so he goes in and out of the house during the day, making his Santa visits. “Santa” received three special gifts that day-meeting the recipients of our son’s liver, kidneys and heart. After having dinner, we all went into the front yard and planted our “Derel Giving Tree”, and of course, took lots of pictures. It is hard to put into words what a celebration of life this was. Our son, whom we love so much, gave us a gift again, the gift of seeing other lives changed because of his unselfish act of love. Derel, this is so like you! Our granddaughter, Shaylyn wrote on her Facebook, “Now I feel like my daddy’s heart is safe." What could have been one of the saddest days of our lives was turned around because of organ donation, not just our son, but others who have so unselfishly signed up to be organ donors. To feel our son’s heart continue beating, to see the smiles on the faces of the recipients, to feel God’s Agape love in the room, to feel the instant connection with everyone that day, THIS was Christmas!!!
By: Marion Duplantis-Derel’s Mother