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Talea’s life was a miracle three times

Talea smiles at the camera with her hand on her chin
Talea & Lakisha
Donor, Advocate
New Jersey
“My daughter was a miracle child. I try to honor her gifts every day.”

When little Talea was born, her mother, Lakisha, called her a “miracle baby.” Time and time again, Talea proved her mother right.

The first miracle happened when Talea was just a toddler. Her mother and a caregiver noticed that Talea seemed to be missing milestones. A trip to a children’s hospital uncovered the reason. One of the hemispheres in Talea’s brain was deeply damaged and she had cerebral palsy. The doctors predicted that the toddler would not live beyond age 5. But Talea surprised them all—by living to the age of twenty.

As she was growing up, of course there were health issues to be faced. But with love and lots of work, Talea not only survived, she learned to walk and talk, went to school, participated in spelling bees, and even graduated from high school. She shared laughs with her mom, loved to cook and dance, and enjoyed caring for children. “She was the funniest person, and she had the most beautiful eyes,” her mother remembers.

Talea’s last day actually began with another sadness. That morning, the family learned that Talea’s great-grandmother had passed on. As the news spread, family members made arrangements to gather. Talea was the first to arrive home. But when the others arrived, they were shocked to find Talea unresponsive. She had suffered a massive seizure.

The family rushed Talea to the hospital, but it was too late. When Lakisha arrived to see her daughter, she knew nothing could be done. Talea was brain-dead. Her body was on life support, but Lakisha’s “baby” was gone.

Lakisha went numb; she barely remembers what happened next. But she knew in her heart that Talea’s life could be a blessing for others—as an organ donor. From a young age, Lakisha had believed in the power of organ donation. So, when a representative from the New Jersey Sharing Network asked her about Talea becoming an organ donor, Lakisha talked to her family and said, “A thousand percent yes.”

The day of donation at the hospital was deeply moving. The family chose a song to play as Talea’s body was escorted to surgery. It was a favorite of hers, “Take Me to the King.” With the donation of her heart, kidney, and liver, Talea saved three people’s lives.

Lakisha treasures knowing that a piece of her daughter’s life lives on in others. And she has found new purpose in continuing to honor Talea.

She participates in 5K walks for organ donation. She has spoken to hospital staff about the experience of being a donor mom. She holds donor sign-ups at colleges and encourages people to talk with their families. “Tell your family ‘I want to make a difference in the world’,” she advises.

Lakisha also participated in two Transplant Games of America and has found the experience transformative. At the last Games, she participated in the Lyrics for Love event and sang a song for her “baby and all the other children who had transitioned.” Her song was “The Greatest Love of All.”

Lakisha’s family has continued to be touched by the need for organ donation. Shortly after Talea passed, Lakisha’s sister, Tabitha, went on the transplant waiting list. Tabitha was in need of an intestine transplant. Sadly, she didn’t receive one in time.

These family miracles and tragedies have reinforced Lakisha’s commitment to tell people about the power of organ donation. “God didn’t give us these organs to be buried with us,” she says. “He gave them so that we can continue life for others.” Just as her miracle baby, Talea, did.

Want to leave your own legacy of hope and healing? Learn about signing up as an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

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