Gift of Life

We all hear that organ donation changes lives. The lives of the recipients and their families and the lives of the families of the donor are altered forever.  Gift of Life Michigan works tirelessly to bring second chances to individuals through their efforts with organ donation. We had an amazing fortunate opportunity to follow one donor’s story, Jimmy Williams, and documented the procurement process with the help of Donation Coordinator Josh Angel and the entire Gift of Life team. This experience was something that won’t be forgotten.

Jimmy was 49 years old, loved nature and worked as a biologist with the DMC in Detroit Michigan. He also worked with Clinton River Water Shed.

Jimmy was happiest kayaking, camping and fishing with his friends or collecting water samples. One of his favorite events was the releasing of fish hatchlings into the Clinton River.

Jimmy passed suddenly. The decision for his family to donate his organs to people in need was an easy one. "Jimmy loved people, he was one of the most giving persons, he would have wanted to do this we know," his sister Julie told us in an interview at 1 am this morning at the Straith Hospital in Southfield Michigan. Julie came to say her final good byes.

Josh, a very well spoken professional with more than 10 years experience, has deep compassion for the families he works with. "I know I can't make this easy. I only hope I can make it easier."

The organs that Jimmy will be able to offer to recipients around the Midwest region are his liver, kidneys, pancreas and his heart. Even his skin, bones and possibly eyes were donated. His lungs were donated for research at the University of Michigan. Jimmy had acute asthmatic issues. As one door shuts on Jimmy's life a new door will open for someone.

We are honored to have been able to tell Jimmy's story. We want to thank Julie and the rest of Jimmy’s family for allowing us to be a part of this journey. Special thank you to the Gift of Life Michigan and Josh. The work that Gift of Life of Michigan does is truly extraordinary.

This filming is for the 13 part series for Detroit Public Television titled The Embrace of Dying. This series is scheduled to air Spring 2015.  

Watch the trailer here

To learn how you can become an organ donor and help save lives, visit