Wednesday, Jul 23rd

Last updateMon, 21 Jul 2014 8am

You are here: Home News Local News The gift of life at Christmas

The gift of life at Christmas

Several people are here to enjoy Christmas this year thanks to the gift of a Nelson woman. Jamie Elliott Satterfield, who passed away in June, was an organ donor. Her generosity gave seven people a new chance at life and dozens more a chance for a better life.

“She was from Nelson, and I’m from South Boston,” explained Kevin Satterfield this week. The couple met and fell in love. They were married on May 3, 2003.

“She was very bubbly,” said Kevin. “She never met anyone she didn’t like.”

The couple made their home in Newport News before getting married and returning to Southside Virginia to start a new life together here.

Kevin, who had been a chef, went to work for an area hospital. Jamie was a stay at home house-wife and a mother to the two sons the couple had, Kevin, nicknamed “Brody,” and Joel.

The world changed for the young family in June when Jamie took the two boys to the lake.

“She loved the water,” remembered Kevin this week. “She loved taking the kids to the lake to go swimming.”

While at the lake, Jamie began having chest pains. Rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that the 31 year old had suffered a heart attack.  Two days later she had a stroke and passed away.

There was no doubt or hesitation about Jamie finishing her life by helping others.

“We had actually discussed it before,” remembered Kevin. “She was already signed up as an organ donor.”

Kevin said this week the fact that Jamie’s passing would give others a chance to live or have a better life had been of great comfort to him in dealing with the loss of his wife.

“What helped me the most was when they told me she could impact over 200 people as a donor,” said Kevin. “That means major organs, eyes, skin for grafts. She was helping a lot of people.”

According to the Organ Donor Foundation, one donor can save seven lives with the gift of major organs. Other lives can be saved or improved with tissue donations including corneas, heart valves, skin and bone for grafts.

Kevin said that he has been contacted by donor services, letting him know that Jamie’s gifts have been received and have made life better for people. 

“There’s an 81 year old woman in Martinsville who can now see,” said Kevin. “I know that her liver, kidney, lungs, were all used. It’s been a big help to know that other people are sharing and being helped.”

Kevin, who is now a registered donor himself, said this week that some people may be reluctant to become donors, but there are really no good reasons not to make the gift.

“You’re not taking them with you,” said Kevin. “Why not use them to help someone, maybe save a child?”

Kevin added that even though Jamie had been an organ donor, there had been no disruption to the funeral services for his wife.

“We were still able to do an open casket service,” said Kevin. “You could not tell she was a donor. But we knew that her gifts were out there, helping other people.”

The loss of a loving parent is, perhaps, the hardest thing for young children to come to terms with.

“The kids handled it really well,” said Kevin. “They’re into super heroes. I told them she’s now a super hero. She’s saving lives. And,” he added, “they believe that she was a super hero.”

Now, six months after her passing, Kevin said the children remember their mom and keep her memory close.

“We have her handprints,” said Kevin. “They put their hands in the prints and talk to her. They know she did something special.”

Kevin said that although the months since Jamie’s passing have been difficult, he believed his wife led a good life and set a good example for their children. 

“I’m proud of her,” said Kevin. “I’m just so proud of what she’s done since she passed.” 

And somewhere, there are families who are able to share Christmas together this year because of the gift given to them by the 31-year-old mother of two.