Heartbreaking story of a family who donated their 3-year-old child’s organs

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(WLNS) – Right now in Michigan, there are nearly 3,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ donation.

Organ donors can help save up to eight lives. Tissue donors can improve the lives of up to 75 people.

As hard as it will be for the family to watch this report, they know their story can help others see that there can be light, even on the darkest days.

“There’s a side of me that takes comfort knowing they’re together… because he was her world.”

Ryan, Father

On the evening of March 9th, Ryan Lahaie, his wife Dana and their 3 and a half year old son Reed were driving down westbound I-96 in Clinton County.

It would be the last evening Ryan would see his family alive.

“I remember seeing the headlights come across the median, and then don’t remember the impact at all.”

Ryan

Police say a drunk driver left the eastbound lanes and hit them head-on. When Ryan came to, it was too quiet.

“I was scared because I didn’t hear anything. You know, my son wasn’t crying. So, you know, my first instant was oh my god. I.. I could see my wife. The way I was pushed… I was looking right at her and she was you know, slumped over. “

Ryan

The last thing he overheard from a first responder before he passed out was that his wife was likely dead.

Both Ryan and Reed were rushed to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.  

Ryan was badly injured and put into a medically-induced coma. Reed was on life support but sadly showed no signs of brain activity.

“We ended up sitting with the doctor looking at the test results that they did on Reed, and it was very apparent that he wasn’t going to make it.”

Pam, Grandmother

But little Reed could help others make it and give them the gift of life, by donating his organs and tissue.

With Ryan in a coma, it was up to Reed’s grandparents.

“I thought about Reed, or if my other grandson needed an organ and it would be devastating to not be able to find a donation for them, so that was kind of my final decision was based on that.”

Betsy, Grandmother

“We could see that, as the only good thing that could from from this terrible tragedy.”

Doug, Grandfather

First, Reed was taken to his dad’s room, the last time his father and son would be next to one another. Then, slowly wheeled to the operating room to save lives as hospital staff gathered for Reed’s “honor walk”.

“Lined up and down the hallways, shoulder to shoulder, down every hallway, just showing respect for Reed and when we walked out… It was overwhelming. “

Pam

“Little Reed’s family, they can’t change their story. Their story’s tragic. But they were able to write a different story for at least 3 other families that we know of right now. Because Little Reed’s grandparents made the decision that they made. A 70-year-old woman, a 40-year-old man, and a 1-year-old baby girl are alive today. “

Betsy Golm

Reed donated both kidneys, his liver, 3 heart valves and tissue. In the future, it could help save two other children as well.

About a week later, Ryan was out of his coma and soon learned his nightmare wasn’t over, that his wife and son were both gone.

“When i first met her was… It kind of was love at first sight. Probably the most caring person I’ve ever met.”

Ryan

Reporter: Good mom? 

“Unbelievable. (Crying) That was one of the things we talked about, having kids. That was always my worst fear that, have a child and lose it.”

Ryan

However, the boy was the best part of both of them… the curious, happy boy with tons of personality and dimples that could melt anyone, is alive in others now.

“There’s a side of me where I feel blessed to not have been in that unfortunate… I put my parents and in-laws in a really tough position but they… But i’m 100 percent convinced and take solace in the fact that it was 100 percent the right decision. The ability to help save others is really the most incredible thing.”

Ryan

“I have to make sure that my wife and son’s legacy live on…”

Ryan

What happened to the driver, who police say is responsible for the crash? He’s facing 5 counts. The most serious being two counts of operating while intoxicated, causing death. Also, one count of operating while intoxicating causing serious injury.

That man’s name is Thomas Hahn. He’s 55-year-old from Illinois. If found guilty on all charges. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

WLNS was in the courtroom for Hahn’s arraignment early last month. Hahn’s lawyers said he’s extremely remorseful and will likely take a plea deal in the coming months.

And how is Ryan’s recovery?

When WLNS spoke to him last month inside Sparrow Hospital, he said he hadn’t even processed what he’d gone through yet, losing his wife and son. He was just trying to physically recover from his injuries and leave the hospital.

Since then, he has been discharged and Sparrow Hospital did something special for him.          

He was surprised when he was discharged to see hospital staff lining the halls for him, and clapping, as he was wheeled to the elevator, nearly 3 months after the crash.

After leaving the hospital, he was taken to a rehabilitation center and will likely spend two weeks there before going home. But he said he doesn’t know what “home” is anymore, without his wife and son.

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