Organ Donation Provides Hope After Tragic Shooting Of 9 Year Old

Organ Donation Provides Hope After Tragic Shooting Of 9 Year Old
Organ Donation Provides Hope After Tragic Shooting Of 9 Year Old

An unspeakable tragedy inspires a mother to get a message out in the name of her late son. Few could forget the killing spree last November that took the life of nine-year-old Jaiden Dixon.

He opened the front door and was shot to death by Danny Thornton, his mother's ex-boyfriend. Thornton ran off, shot another ex-girlfriend, and was then was shot and killed by police in a Walmart parking lot. 

Nicole Fitzpatrick has been numb for months, and the issue she wants out there isn't one most parents probably think about.

“You don't expect your child to answer the door, and then be gone in a split second,” said Fitzpatrick.

Jaiden was violently taken from his mother's life.

“This is every parent, siblings, family's worst nightmare,” she says.

She heard what sounded like a balloon pop, then turned to see him fall to the floor. Nicole Fitzpatrick watched her youngest son die.

“So random, so out of nowhere, so unexpected.”

Killed by her ex-boyfriend and father of her oldest son, Jaiden's death has created a void in this family.

“One day we seem to be okay, the next minute, just down, can't get out of bed, can't function, can't do anything. He was just an amazing kid he really was.”

Jaiden's character played into the decisions following his shooting and the question of organ donation.

“I think he would have made the decision, yeah, I want to help people, yeah, that's what I want to do.” 

So the family did what they thought Jaiden would want to do, even though Nicole never spoke with her son about it.

“It’s just something you don't expect to have a conversation about.”

Nicole thinks it's a conversation parents should have, long before teens are asked to check the box on their driver's license.

“Just so, as a parent, you have that idea of what they would want to do.”

“I applaud her in wanting to keep his memory alive and maybe make this his legacy to the community,” said Marilyn Pongonis, Lifeline of Ohio.

Pongonis says it's a decision that has to be made fairly quickly in the most difficult moments of a family member's life. So, the organization works at an inviting approach to their message.

Education for kids happens mostly at the middle and high school levels, but she says, it should start before that.

“I think for younger children, it’s important for the parents to have that discussion,” added Pogonis.

“I have a son who's 12, a daughter who's 10, donation was part of their lives since they were born,” said Ron Packard.

Packard is not only Lifeline's Community Education Manager but also a liver recipient.

“Really gently introduce the idea that when someone dies, there is an opportunity for those organs to be given to others,” he says.

Nicole encourages her friends to use Jaiden as an example with their kids.

“Is that something you would want to do or would you not want to do it?” Nicole says to ask.

Lifeline offers materials and coloring books and their mascot, Honeybee.

“As the students get progressively older, then we add in more detail,” said Packard.

For Nicole, she wants children and their parents to know the good that can come from a tragedy.

Jaiden helped other people, and he's still around by helping other people. Jaiden gave at least one person new life.

“His lungs saved a little girl in St. Louis,” says Nicole. “His lungs - he's still breathing for somebody else and saved a family and they didn't have to experience Christmas without their nine year old and that's what's important.”

MORE INFO: Lifeline of Ohio