NEWBERRY — In 2015, Lisa Smith’s eldest son, Bruce “Quan” Garrison Jr., committed suicide at the age of 33. After his death, Smith made a decision that would help four other individuals live.
“Bruce wasn’t an organ donor, when they first approached me it was hard to hear that your child was brain dead and he wasn’t going to make it through the night. Once I came to grips, they had 24 hours to pronounce him deceased, that is when a spirit hit me and it was okay, I have to do this for him,” Smith said.
Four of Garrison’s organs were given to four individuals in need. His kidneys were given to two South Carolina residents, his heart went to an individual in Washington D.C. and his liver went to a recipient in Tennessee.
“Being able to have a little of him going on, it is comforting. Especially in those situations, those individuals who receive an organ, they have to be in a life threatening situation,” Smith said.
After some time passed, Smith reached out to the individuals that received Garrison’s organs. Smith said she reached out to all of them to make sure they were doing well after the transplant. She heard back from two of the recipients, and with the help of Sharing Hope SC (an organization that offers hope and changes lives through the gift of organ, eye and tissue donations) she was able to meet one of them.
Antoinette received Garrison’s left liver. She is also the only female recipient and the youngest.
“She is 32, and when he passed he was 33,” Smith said. “This young lady was sick ever since she was 19 years old, she fought. She went through school, received her bachelor’s degree, married, had three children. It had to be scary to not even know what the outcome was going to be.”
Sharing Hope set up a meeting between Smith and Antoinette in North Charleston, a halfway point for both mothers. Smith said that Sharing Hope took care of everything, putting them in a hotel for a night, and setting up the meeting at a local church. Smith called the experience wonderful.
“Meeting Antoinette, it gave me hope, it gave me a sense of peace to know that even though my son didn’t think he had much to give, he did. He will be remembered for a very long time. Not just from his family, but from other families,” she said.
Smith added that fate played a hand as well. Like her, Antoinette is a mother of three boys, but the similarities do not stop there.
“Her name is Antoinette, my middle son’s name is Antione, he was best friends with Quan. Sitting and speaking with her, they (Antoinette and Quan) had somewhat of the same personality, she was a jokester and so was he,” Smith said. “They had that thing, when someone was emotional he didn’t really know how to respond, so he would say a joke. She did the same thing.”
Although Garrison passed away, his death helped bring life to others, and Smith said she looks at it that way as she tells his story, and in a sense they (the four organ recipients) live and are able to tell his story as well.
Through Garrison’s story, Smith also wants to share that suicide is not the answer.
“While I attended school and worked two jobs, he was right there with me, helping me raise those boys (his brothers). For them, my two youngest sons, it hurts them as far as the impact, they didn’t just lose a brother, they lost a dad,” she said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.