Heart recipient teams with donor’s mom

Published 4:03 pm Monday, December 3, 2018

By Myra Bean

The world as Barbara Edmond of Memphis knew it changed forever April 6, 2014. Her 27-year-old son, Reginald “Reggie” Mercer was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run accident.

However, that was not the end of him. On his license was a red heart, which designated him as an organ donor or lifesaver.

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One of the six recipients was Batesville resident Coasie Parker, 33, at the time of her transplant.

Parker and Edmond met and told their part of the stories Wednesday at the North Regional Department of Public Safety/Highway Patrol meeting at the Troop F headquarters on Hwy. 35N.

Parker told of her transplant journey. Her only illness in her 33 years was a bout with what she thought was asthma.  Feb. 14, 2014, she worked a f12-hour shift before going to Baptist Memorial Hospital NM, for a shot and breathing treatment at the emergency room.

However, the medical professionals deemed she needed more tests run before they administered any medicine. There was something not right about her heart tests and they transferred her to Baptist East in Memphis under the care of Dr. Todd Edwards.

She was told that only five percent of her heart was working. A virus had attacked her heart. She was in the hospital five weeks and went on the transplant list March 7, 2014. On April 9, she received Mercer’s heart.

“That was only a three-month process so I know that was nobody but God. I know I serve an awesome God,” Parker said.

One year ago, November 28, 2017, Parker and Edmond met for the first time. She said she receives unconditional love from Parker since they have met.

Edmond said it took three years for her to be able to talk about the loss of her son. The captive audience she spoke before Wednesday was the largest audience she had addressed. She held a laminated photo and short synopsis of Reggie’s life as she spoke.

Edmond has three other children. Reggie was the third. At the time of his death, he was a cook. She said he fancied himself a chef, cooking hot wings. “I was the tester. Sometimes, they were not that good, but I told him it was alright,” Edmond said.

Reginald was full of life and intelligent. He received a full academic scholarship to the University of Memphis. He was also an artist. He and his sister auditioned at the Apollo. He had one of his pieces on display at the Brooks Museum in Memphis for a month.

His mother said she knows what happened was God’s plan for her son, and that his life helped save others. “I lost him but I gained more families,” Edmond said.

The right kidney went to a West Memphis man named Jeremy, 65. His liver went to a 30-year-old man who has had two children after the transplant.

“I was told just this morning that is phenomenal to have children after a transplant. Miracles just keep happening with this one donation. He just had a little girl three months ago and they named her Nakena Reggie. So he will be living, on and on and on,” Edmond said.

The program featured Zola Burgess and Susan Bonds from Donate Life and Chuck Stinson from Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA).

There are currently more than 115,000 people in the United States waiting for a transplant with more than 1,300 in Mississippi. Over 70 percent are African-Americans, according to Stinson.

Of that number, 1,200 need kidney transplants. Ninety percent of those are African-Americans.

Twenty-two people die each day waiting for a transplant and every 10 minutes another person is added to the national waiting list.

According to MORA facts, one organ donor can save eight lives by donating a heart, two lungs, lier, pancreas, two kidneys and intestines.

One tissue donor can heal 50 lives with cornea, skin, heart valves, veins, tendons and bones.

Anyone can register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor regardless of age, race or medical history.

Stinson said the only exceptions are people who had cancer within five years at the time of death and HIV positives, though that is changing because HIV patients need HIV organs.

The age record for a donor was a 84-years-old liver from a Mississippi man.  Age or medical condition is not an issue for donors. Anyone with an state-issued identification card or license can be a donor beginning at age 17.

Parker promised to make the most of her second chance at life with her new family by her side. Since the surgery, she’s earned a bachelor’s degree and is working toward her master’s in Human Resource Management.

To register your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor visit the group’s website at DonateLifeMS.org.