'She had a higher purpose'
July 22, 2010, John Edmond got the call every parent dreads.
There had been a shooting and his daughter, 7-year-old Amaia Edmond, was involved. Edmond said he barely remembers the frantic trip to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, where he learned that his little girl would not recover. She was being kept alive on a ventilator.
A man of faith, Edmond said he tried to look past his rage and grief and ask God for guidance as he decided what to do. He decided to donate her organs, so that others might find new life. Her gifts saved five people.
“Based off Amaia’s life, I knew I wanted to do it. I didn’t hesitate. I zoned out for a minute and I thought about Amaia, and how she loved to help people,” he said. “It felt like a cold bucket of water being poured over me from head to toe. I went from being ready to kill to being calm and peaceful. I’ve been that way ever since.”
Edmond has since corresponded with and formed relationships with the recipients whose lives Amaia saved, including Mike Lopez, a Holland, MI resident who was gifted her liver. John met Mike at an anti-violence event he was coordinating in Lansing, called Keep the Peace; Stop the Silence.
“It’s a true blessing for me,” said Lopez, whose liver was operating at about 20 percent prior to the transplant. “She will always be my angel.”
Edmond has since coordinated other anti-violence events, worked with the Lansing police department on community policing task forces, and counseled victims of violence. Most recently, he worked with faith leaders to organize a ‘One Faith Community Day’ in honor of Amaia. He continues to be a strong advocate for organ and tissue donation and the good it can do.
“Amaia’s story influenced so many people. I honestly had to think: this is my child, and how proud I am,” Edmond said. “I feel so grateful for this opportunity. I have to tell this story until I’m gone.”
Edmond said there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about his daughter, but he has stopped wondering why she was taken so young, and why he would never be able to see her graduate high school, go to college; why he wouldn’t be able to walk her down the aisle. He said he found those answers in prayer.
“God told me that she did live her life – and she had a higher purpose,” he said. “Her memory is what I want to keep going. It seems like her spirit responds to what I’m doing in the community. I know my daughter, her legacy, rings loud in the city. Her spirit is truly alive.”
Gift of Life Michigan is honoring its 50th anniversary with 50 stories of donors, donor families, recipients and volunteers. You can find more #50for50 stories here.