Power of Mother's Love Gives Hope and Life

Tamika Shambe' with her son, Dallas

In 2001, with a turtle, cat and fish in tow, single mom Tamika Shambe' and her 6-year-old son Dallas said goodbye to their hometown of Detroit and headed to Denver.

Tamika wanted a better quality of life for Dallas, but making a home in Colorado wasn't easy. After living in a hotel for some time, they drove around in search of an apartment.

Leaving one complex without prospects, Tamika wondered what was next for their family of two. As always, she found encouragement in Dallas, who she calls her best friend.

"I was about to drive away when Dallas said, 'Mom, just wait,'" she recalls. Tamika did and at that moment, a leasing agent came to their car to say there was one apartment left-a place they could finally call home.

"Dallas was always so wise, my conscience," she says. "With everything we ever did, he always just adjusted and adapted to everything. It was just the two of us for so long; we were there for each other."

Life in Denver takes a devastating turn

Life settled down and Dallas thrived. He made friends and became a beloved member of his local church.

On Halloween in 2008 Dallas joined his pastor's son and daughter for "Hallelujah Night." The three friends, dressed in friendly costumes, planned to talk with kids in the community about joining the ministry.

When Tamika dropped Dallas off and said goodbye for the night, she reminded him to be on his best behavior.

His response would forever stay with Tamika.

"He said, 'I know, I know. I got you,'" she recalls.

Later that night Tamika received a call that a drunk driver struck the ministry's van. Dallas was rushed to Children's Hospital Colorado where physicians worked to save the 13-year-old.

Dallas died shortly after arriving at Children's.

Dallas lives on

Grieving, Tamika found solace in her godmother who spoke with her about a way to ensure Dallas's spirit would live on: organ donation.

Tamika admits that she struggled with the difficult decision. She ultimately agreed to donate Dallas's organs, knowing that someone else could live as a result of her son's gift.

"Dallas would have wanted to help someone else; he always helped others," Tamika recalls. "This was the best decision I ever made to do that for him."

"I have the greatest respect for Dallas's mom," explains Emily Dobyns, M.D., medical director of Critical Care at Children's. "I know how incredibly hard that decision must have been."

For Tamika it was the encouragement Dallas always offered to bolster her during the most difficult times in her life, including his funeral. Nearly 1,000 people attended the celebration of his life, a life dedicated to bringing joy to those he met.

"There's so much light in releasing a loved one," Tamika reflects. "You have a choice to live with or without them. I am learning to live with my son passing, with him as part of my life."

"The thing that strikes me most about donor families is their generosity and selflessness," says Amanda Rosengren, LCSW, clinical social worker in Children's pediatric intensive care unit. "During the worst possible moment of their lives, they are able to think beyond their grief, and think about the gift they are able to give another family."

A year ago the family of the person who received Dallas's heart reached out to Tamika. She felt consolation in receiving their card.

"The very essence of him, I feel Dallas is still here in another person," she says of reading the family's note of gratitude.

Today, Tamika is preparing to celebrate her one-year wedding anniversary in late May with her husband and step-children. As her new life unfolds, she still feels her son with her every day.

"My son is still living," she explains. "I know where his heart is and he will be forever in my heart."

Visit http://donatelife.net for more information about organ donation and how you can register.