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The Van Asperen Family's Story - Donate Life - Nebraska - Donate Life Nebraska


Donate Life Nebraska

Real stories about organ, eye and tissue donation in Nebraska.

The Van Asperen Family's Story

Update on Dawson - June 2015

By Amanda, Dawson's Mom

Since this video first aired, Dawson has continued to do well medically and lives life to the fullest every single day! Dawson will begin second grade this fall. He really likes school and has a wonderful support system in his teachers. Dawson has a love for dinosaurs and can name pretty much every dinosaur that has been discovered. It is kind of amazing to hear a 7 year old pronounce dinosaur names that most adults can't say correctly. He is looking forward to the Jurassic World movie coming out this month, even though his dad and I are not as enthusiastic!  Dawson is also turning into quite the fisherman and enjoys going out on the boat with his dad and brother during our family camping trips. We have been told that there will come a point in time when a heart transplant will be necessary. When that day will be is still unknown.  Until that time our hope is that Dawson can continue to be the happy, inquisitive, gentle soul that he is. We have taught Dawson to appreciate what he has and to know that each day is a gift. Our family will be forever grateful to the tissue donor and their family for giving Dawson the gift of life and allowing us to watch our little miracle grow bigger every day!DawsonBackpack


Dawson's Story

My son Dawson was placed on oxygen when he was born and spent the first day of his life in the nursery being monitored. He was given the OK to go to my room with me where we spent a rather uneventful day visiting with family and friends. That evening he began breathing funny. The nurse came in and checked his oxygen saturation levels and said she was going to take him to the nursery to be checked out. I remember waiting about five minutes then going to the nursery to see what was happening. The entire nursery was full of doctors and nurses! One of the doctors came out and told me something was very wrong with Dawson's heart.

Dawson was life-flighted to Children's Hospital in Omaha where he was monitored and given medication to keep his heart functioning until surgery could be performed. Dawson had his first open heart surgery on March 25, 2007. He was 8 days old. Dawson had a very narrow aorta and aortic arch. His surgeon used donor graft tissue to make them larger so he could have normal blood flow. Without enlargement of the aorta and aortic arch, Dawson's heart would not have functioned well enough to keep him alive.

Dawson is doing very well. He had his 3 surgery in June 2012. We spent several weeks in the hospital but since coming home he has done fantastic. Dawson loves Thomas the Train, dinosaurs and cars. He also loves playing outside with his big brother and his dogs. He is like our little Energizer Bunny; he just goes and goes nonstop from sun up 'til sundown.

If we could meet the donor family we would want them to know how very grateful we are that their loved one gave the gift of life. We believe with our whole hearts that Dawson would not be here doing as well as he is without his tissue graft. At age 16, I registered as an organ and tissue donor. Until having Dawson, I had never met anyone who was a recipient of organ or tissue donation. Before Dawson was born we had several family members that were not interested in donating their organs or tissue- -Dawson changed their opinions very quickly. I believe pretty much all of our extended family and friends are now registered organ donors. We never imagined that we would also soon experience the other side of the transplant process, as a donor family.    

Eric's Story

My brother-in law Eric was the kind of person that just made you smile. He would go out of his way to say or do something to make a person laugh. He was very much a family man and was always trying to come up with ways to get everyone together. One thing that stands out in my mind is that he never left our house without giving you a hug.

When Dawson was about 7 months old, Eric came over one day and told my husband Dave and me that he went to the DMV to make sure he was signed up as an organ donor. He said that he saw what an impact organ and tissue donation made in our life and he wanted to do the same for others if anything ever happened to him.

While Eric was working for the City of Lincoln, a lawn tractor he was riding rolled over on top of him. Paramedics were able to resuscitate him at the accident scene and he was on life support for several days; however his doctors determined that he had no brain activity. Eric had spoken to his wife about his wish to be an organ donor as well. I think knowing that he wanted to help others live a full and happy life made the decision to donate his organs and tissues easier on our family.

Being an organ donor was a decision that Eric had given a lot of thought to. He was a person who would try to help others whenever he could and it brings our family some peace knowing that something good was able to come out of this tragedy.

Being an organ and tissue donor is the most selfless decision a person came make. Through organ donation you can save up to 8 lives and help improve the lives of countless others through eye and tissue donation. As a family who has been on both sides of the process, it is very easy to see that one family's sadness and grief can easily be turned into another family's miracle. It is a legacy that will last more than one lifetime.

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