Giving the gift of life to others:’ Yonkers mother finds light in loss of son through organ donation
April is Organ Donation Awareness Month, and News 12 is highlighting the family of an organ donor from Yonkers who was able to save lives after he lost his own.
Carmen Hanchard lost her 43-year-old son Lukie to complications from a brain aneurysm in 2008. While she was in the hospital, members from LiveOnNY came to speak with her about organ donation.
“I felt that whatever you came into this world with, you would leave with it. So, for me, it was a big no,” she says.
However, Carmen Hanchard realized it wasn’t about what she wanted, but about what decisions Lukie would have made with his own body if he had the chance.
“My brother would give the shirt off his back, and he would give you his last dollar,” says Christine Hanchard, Lukie’s sister. “He was too young to go and not make his life mean something.”
The family made the decision to donate his kidneys, each to a different recipient
“He went on to have a child, the male recipient...he was a young guy, and that was a little rewarding,” says Carmen Hanchard.
She says it can be too late to have the conversation about organ donation but never too early.
“I think that's the hardest part, especially if you don't know what that person would like for themself,” she says.
Christine Hanchard adds, “Make that decision for yourself so your family doesn't have to do it, because it's difficult to do for somebody when you're in the midst of grieving.”
Carmen Hanchard says when her granddaughter Camille died suddenly in 2019, the family donated her kidneys as well
“Giving the gift of life to others has been the most rewarding thing, because just like my mother said, it's something she never thought she'd be doing, and it has helped her,” says Christine Hanchard.
Carmen Hanchard has made it her life mission to preach the benefits of organ donation throughout the state
“There’s not a place I have not gone where I've not spoken about him and just kept his memory alive. I think it saved my life,” she says.