Marilyn Whiting knew that even in death her husband would want to help.
On Aug. 1, her husband Ray (Dick), died in hospital. Whiting went to the nurses to tell them he had passed, and they asked if he might donate his eyes so someone else could see. The nurses told her to talk it over with her family, but Whiting instinctively knew what Ray would have wanted.
“I knew exactly what he would say; ‘I’ve got no more use for them; if they can help someone else, go for it.’
“He was a very giving man.”
The corneas were harvested and used in four people, Whiting was later told. She also received a certificate of thanks in the mail from the Trillium Gift of Life Network.
Then, this fall, the organization brought all of the donors families together to honour their gift. Whiting, her son and two of Ray’s brothers went to the ceremony in London. Whiting says it was very moving.
At one point, organizers read a letter from a man in his twenties who had been losing his sight since he was 16. He was married and recently had a baby girl. The transplant helped him see his daughter for the first time.
“It was so emotional.”
And while Whiting never had any doubts about her decision to allow her husband’s eyes to be donated, there was comfort for families too, with the chair of Trillium’s board likening donating your eyes to stomping out wine from old grapes “you’re taking what is best about a person and making something better.”