Hospital honors organ donors at special ceremony

Published 6:19 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

VALLEY — At 10 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, EAMC-Lanier Hospital hosted a flagpole ceremony to salute those who have donated organs to save lives and to celebrate continued life for the recipients.

“This ceremony means a lot to me and this hospital,” said EAMC-Lanier Administrator Greg Nichols. “We have David and Amy here with us today to tell their story. We are proud of them.”

David Thomas is a kidney donor and his wife Amy works at the East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. She’s a native of Valley’s River View community and formerly worked at EAMC-Lanier.

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A quality group leader at KMMG in West Point, Thomas told a group of hospital employees gathered around the flag how it was donated a kidney to someone he’d never met.

It all started with a dream.

“I dreamed one night that I’d donated a kidney,” he said. “And not long after that I read in a company newsletter that the brother of someone I knew was in need of a kidney.”

The dream was so vivid to him and that it might have been a call to action.

“I felt I might be a match,” he said. “At least I could try.”

The first step was to talk to Chase Hall, brother of Zach Hall, who was in need of a donated kidney.  Zach was in his late 20s at the time and had been diagnosed with potential kidney failure when he was 13.

Like Thomas, Chase Hall is a group leader at KMMG. Though both of them worked in assembly, they didn’t know each other when Thomas sought him out.

“I thought he was very gracious to ask, but I was skeptical because no one in my family was a qualifying donor,” Hall said. “But David was so confident he would be a match that I gave him the information.”

Volunteering to be someone’s donor is a long way from being approved. Thomas had to undergo 50 different blood tests at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. As fate would have it, he was a perfect match.

That was confirmed in August 2014 and not long after that Thomas planned a party at his house with the Halls as his invited guests.

When Zach arrived, Thomas handed him a card with the message: “Meet your donor.”

Needless to say, the Halls were overjoyed.

On Aug. 29, Zach received his new kidney. He recovered well and is now an officer with the LaGrange Police Department. At Wednesday’s flagpole ceremony, Thomas admitted that he’d experienced some pain throughout the process but said he dealt with it by remembering John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this — to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Thomas decided early on that he had that dream for a reason and that he should follow through with it. He was unsure of how his wife Amy would react. After all, they do have four young children: Payton, Libbey, Brayden and Ricky.

“I thought she might think I was crazy, but she supported me,” he said.

“I think it was so important to be supportive of him in this decision,” said Amy Thomas. “I knew he was being called to do it.”

Laura Eason, chaplain for the East Alabama Medical Center and EAMC-Lanier, said that there are many stories in the Bible where God speaks to people through dreams.

“We need to pay attention when this happens,” she said. “God has a plan for us.”