In their darkest hour, a Eureka family chose to help others. Their 1-year-old daughter, Quinn, was rushed to the emergency room by ambulance. When her parents arrived by car, they were met with devastating news

“Her heart stopped and they were keeping her on support so we could say our last goodbyes,” said Quinn’s mom, Angel Dodson. “We walked in there and told her goodbye and how much we loved her and how special she was to all of us,” she said.

Within hours of that final goodbye, representatives from Mid-America Transplant reached out to the family. They asked the Dodson’s if they would consider donating Quinn’s tissue including her heart valves.

“I was not so much angry as I was ‘how could you ask us this now? Don’t you know that we’re mourning,’” Angel said.

But, once Quinn’s parents started talking more to the agency, they softened. The Dodson’s realized Quinn’s sacrifice would be treated with tenderness.

Angel explained that representatives from Mid-America Transplant asked if there was a certain song the family would like played when the surgeon procured Quinn’s heart valves. Angel chose “You Are My Sunshine.”

Mid-America Transplant, a not-for-profit group, is in charge of all organs and tissue donated after death in the St. Louis metro area. The agency also told the Dodson family any prayer or final words the family had would be read aloud in the operating room. The words would be said with the entire medical team present before the procedure was performed.

“They want you to feel so comfortable. They want you to know that what you are doing is so important to them. To know that they care that much, to fulfill your last wishes,” Angel said.

Mid-America Transplant also uses handmade blankets to cover the body of loved ones. Before organs and/or tissue is procured, the blanket is removed and given to the family.

The Dodson’s hope to hear from the recipient of Quinn’s heart valves one day soon.

“There’s a possibility we could meet this child one day and we’ll know a part of [Quinn] will always be with us,” said Angel.