During this episode of This Thing Called Life Podcast, host Andi Johnson speaks with Debbie Pollino, a Donate-Life Ambassador for LifeCenter. Unfortunately, Debbie’s experience as an ambassador found its roots in the death of her son Nick after a car crash in 2014. Debbie knows firsthand that grief looks different for everyone and she hopes that sharing her son’s story can help others deal with their own tragedies.
- In January 2014, Debbie lost her son Nick to a car accident, suffering a brain injury that he could not recover from.
- Debbie had no idea that her son Nick was very passionate about organ donation until he noticed that she was one on her license.
- Nick was able to save multiple lives with the organs that were donated from his body.
- 4 months after the death of her son, Debbie attempted to become a Donate-Life Ambassador, but it was still too soon.
- After about 18 months of recovering from the death of her son, Debbie started sharing Nick’s story at schools.
- Nick was a very adventurous and outdoorsy person, driving across the country multiple summers in a row to Northern California.
- After attending Northern Kentucky for college, Nick transferred to a school in Northern California for a forestry program.
- What was supposed to be a 3-month trip to Hawaii for Nick, turned into a 5 ½ year trip.
- The Bernie Madoff pyramid scheme collapse brought an end to Nick’s trip to Hawaii.
- Debbie’s nephews and nieces were like siblings with Nick in life, children to her after Nick’s death.
- Fortunately for Debbie, her family continued to talk about Nick, keeping his spirit all around them.
- Nick had the kind of spirit that makes people proud to remember who he was as a person.
- Debbie had a meltdown recently when she was looking through pictures and realized that she will never have a current one.
- Nick made it all the way to Lima, Peru on a buddy pass for New Years, sleeping in the airport for a week.
- The first time that Debbie went to visit Nick in Hawaii, he jumped off a 60-foot cliff and climbed back up.
- With how up and down the grieving process is, it’s important to have people that you can ask for help.
- Though support groups work for some people, Debbie felt it was more beneficial to be around positive reinforcement.
- Nick was very spiritual in his own way, using nature as his church, as a way to find peace.
- Debbie and her family celebrate Nick on a variety of occasions, especially Thanksgiving, his favorite holiday.
- On August 4th every year, Nick’s birthday, Debbie’s family throws a party to celebrate his life.
- Debbie had the pleasure of meeting Nick’s heart recipient, Brian, and welcoming his family into her family.
- Brian looks and acts the same as Nick, with a similar build and a love for outdoor adventure.
- The pandemic has been especially difficult for Debbie, given how close she is with her family.
- Though it’s hard during the pandemic, don’t hide away from other people while you are grieving.
3 Key Points:
- Debbie lost her 36-year-old son, Nick, after a car accident in January of 2014. Because of his passion for organ donation, he was able to save multiple lives.
- While most days are good, filled with great memories, some days are rough for Debbie when all she wants is a hug from her son.
- Nick’s heart recipient, Brian, a father of 2, has since become a part of Debbie’s family, along with the rest of his family.