My brother, Thomas Vanderhorst, also known as Tom or Dutch, was happiest when he was giving, teaching, helping and loving others. He loved his family with his whole heart and soul - Joyce, his wife of 21 years; their son, Nic, who is now 21; and daughter, Tina, 20. They were the world to him.
We were all devastated when, at just 47 years old Tom died from complications following an aortic valve replacement on October 5, 2004. In keeping with his giving nature, he became a donor and gifted his organs, tissue and cornea.
Thanks to OneLegacy, I met Bill, the wonderful recipient of Tom’s kidney. Although Bill lives in Pennsylvania, we keep in contact and are able to share in the glory of Tom’s incredible gift of life. As evidence that Tom’s gifts keep on giving, Bill and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby boy on August 23, 2010 and, with great honor, named him Thomas. Young Thomas’ birth was doubly special as August 23rd was also the date both Tom and Joyce’s mothers were born.
Tom was also able to enhance the lives of 133 people - two females from Southern California received his corneas and 131 people received tissue donations. The youngest recorded recipient was a 13-year-old girl from Pennsylvania who received his Achilles tendon, and the oldest recipient was 77-year-old female from Louisiana who received an allograft spacer for anterior fusion of the cervical spine (ACF Spacer).
Tom will always live in our hearts and we miss him every day. Knowing Tom and his kidney saved Bill’s life and enabled him to become a father, and that his gifts of tissue enhance so many other lives, brings comfort and healing.
In 2014, I attended my first Donate Life Transplant Games of America with Team SoCal as a donor sister. When I walked into the opening ceremony with the other donor families, I never knew my heart could feel so much love and appreciation from others. We received a standing ovation with cheers of gratitude and respect. It filled my heart with joy to watch organ recipients compete in the Transplant Games and live life to the fullest with a deep appreciation to donors and donor families