Courtesy of The Gary 411
Takisha Ross and Shelecta ‘Shay’ Weldy bonded more than 2 years ago but had their first meeting Monday at Methodist Hospitals’ Northlake Campus Honor Walk and Gift of Hope recognition ceremony.
In August of 2017, Tavontae Allen, Ross’s 23-year-old son suffered an asthma attack and passed at the Northlake Campus. Ross offered her son’s organs for donation, saving the lives of four people in need of organ transplants.
Weldy received Tavontae’s heart; his liver was transplanted into a man in his 50s; the right kidney saved the life of a woman in her 50s; and his left kidney and pancreas went to a man in his 40s.
“This has been a long journey for me,” Weldy said. “Her choice to donate life saved my life. This is the best I’ve felt in a decade. I go back now and visit heart patients at Northwestern Memorial in Chicago.” Weldy’s transplant was performed at Northwestern. “And I bring information about Gift of Hope and organ donation. If you’re not an organ donor, please become one.”
Tavontae was a registered organ donor because of his mom. “Both of us were getting our I.D.’s renewed,” Ross said. “I asked Tavontae to register. At first he said no. When he saw I was a donor, that changed his mind.”
Ross and Weldy led a large group of family members through the first floor hall of the hospital, lined with Methodist employees for a salute to the two women.
Ross was grateful to Weldy for contacting the family. “I didn’t think anyone would reach out to me.”
Ross said she hadn’t planned on speaking, “… but standing next to a lady with his heart – because he had a heart of gold – he continues to live on. Thank you. You’ve given me peace. I’ve been carrying him with me; now I can let go.”
Many wiped tears as she spoke.
Thom Ross followed Takisha to the microphone. “She asked me to speak for her, but I think she did real good.” Thom said his sister struggled with Tavontae’s passing, on birthdays, holidays, and in counseling. “This day is like a spiritual awakening. I admire the people over this program. Thank you for blessing our family like this.”
Ross and Weldy took a mile walk earlier that day. “The fact that I was able to help her gave me peace and closure. This is the best Christmas gift ever,” Ross said.
Honor Walks are typically held on the day donation takes place, before a donor’s organ recovery. Therese Michels, marketing manager for Gift of Hope said the events are an opportunity for family members, loved ones and medical staff to honor and pay respect to the generous gifts that donors and donors’ families offer to those waiting for lifesaving and life-enhancing organ and tissue transplants.