AMY LEANNE FOX
On April 29, 2015, the first ever event took place at Glenwood Regional Medical Center (GRMC) in West Monroe, LA. It was a flag raising ceremony. The Donate Life flag flies proudly over the hospital right now. I was asked to speak at this ceremony. My name is Charlene Amorello, mother of Amy Leanne Fox, organ donor. I’d like to share this speech.
My brother says I live in a Fairytale Kingdom. My employer says I live in Charleneland. But, that’s okay because it inspires me to tell you this little story: ‘Once Upon a Time, not long ago, there lived a beautiful brown-eyed young lady named Amy Leanne Fox. She had two younger brothers named Dante and Ben and a wonderful sister-in-law named Alisha and precious fiance’ to Ben, Misty. Amy was also blessed with six nieces and nephews who she adored as well. All these children later proved that they loved Amy the “most and the best”.
Amy went through life working, going to school and smiling even when Type I diabetes got in the way. It took its toll on young Amy when she was 32 – when she suffered 6 strokes- not TIA’s – real strokes. Her doctors were baffled. They still are. She soon retired from the Alexandria (LA) Police Department and received a small pension. Strangely enough, she managed. She received no Medicare, Medicaid or social security. Nothing. The judge said she “looked too good”. She did physical therapy herself starting with coloring books, learning how to walk, talk again and even how to feed herself. Still, no assistance. By the time Amy reached 39, she had 12 strokes.
One day, Amy decided to tell her mama that she wanted everyone to honor that red heart on her driver’s license. Her mama told her, “You probably wouldn’t qualify, you have type I diabetes, high blood pressure, low kidney function, thyroid trouble,- you take Plavix, Coumadin, Insulin, and tons of other meds.” Amy was resolute, “Please mom just honor my wishes”. “Okay, fine, whatever” her mama said.
A few weeks later, it was Amy’s time. The last stroke left her in a coma for 3 weeks. It was Christmas time. When all hope was gone, it was an easy decision. The family knew it would be an inconvenience – a day or 2 to find a match, a recipient. But, in the scheme of things, time meant nothing. Everyone seemed frozen in time anyway. The transplant team sent word to the family that Amy had “a beautiful liver.” They all looked dumbfounded, then looked at each other and grinned. A “beautiful liver”? Okay.
Time went by and the grief was bearable. Alisha did not have to console her mother-in-law by holding her shoulders, looking straight in Charlene’s eyes and saying, “Just breathe, just breathe.”
Amy’s mama thought all hope was gone after her death. She was wrong. In this family’s darkest hour, this was a “light in the tunnel”. Amy’s “beautiful liver” would live on. LOPA wrote a letter, not long after, that a woman in her 20’s had received Amy’s liver. Returning war veterans had received tendons, bone and tissue so they could move and walk again. Some were given a better life by their facial appearance being greatly improved. Even a lovely locks organization made a child smile after chemo.
Amy didn’t need any help. She had helped others, just like always. There are people out there living, “happily ever after” because she had a red heart on her license and a family that honored that red heart.