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Have you ever wrestled with the positive or negative aspects of making the decision to donate your organs? After you read what happened to one North Carolina minister, if you haven’t chosen the donate option, you may rethink your choice.

Sure, there are some beliefs that respectfully believe they must be buried intact. These folks may insist that we’re going to need all our parts in the afterlife. The idea that we take certain necessary components of our living bodies with us was a part of Egyptian culture.

That explains why rulers and aristocratic types had themselves mummified. Likewise, they were careful to load up burial chambers with every type of imaginable thing of value. But today, most people believe a “soul,” or something external to our physical bodies, goes onward into eternity.

If that’s the case, there isn’t going to be much use for dead and decaying organs. There is an extreme benefit to removing any viable organs before they cease to function. It’s now a common practice for many to elect to donate any viable organs to someone in need.

It’s a noble decision that could save and extend the physical life of another human being. Donating organs is generally perceived as a good thing. But no one would ever imagine that checking the “organ donor box” could, in fact, save their own life.

That’s precisely what happened to our North Carolina preacher. Ryan Marlowe was rushed to the hospital. The 37-year-old had contracted a food-borne bacterial illness called listeria. The listeria infection caused Marlowe’s brain to suddenly swell.

Eventually, the father-of-three slipped into a coma. His prognosis was grim. Under North Carolina law, a medical doctor can declare a patient dead once they cease to exhibit brain activity. That’s what Marlowe’s doctors did.

A nurse informed Marlowe’s wife that her husband “has passed.” The mother was grief-stricken. Megan Marlowe returned home to comfort her three children. She had to assume that the medical staff was making a correct diagnosis. But were they?

Megan’s husband remained on life support because he was an organ donor. The medical staff needed his organs to continue functioning normally, so they could be harvested. Doctors told Megan that her husband had experienced traumatic brain damage.

She was told his organs would be harvested, and he would subsequently be taken off life support. They reconfirmed that Ryan Marlowe was officially brain dead. But was he? Megan went back to the hospital to say her final goodbyes.

But what happened during what she assumed would be her “final visit” was astonishing. When Megan arrived at the hospital, a family member announced that they saw Marlowe’s feet twitch. He was being shown pictures of his family, most likely as a means of coping with their grief.

The medical team was ready to wheel Marlowe’s body off for organ harvesting. Megan made them stop. She demanded a test to confirm that he was brain dead. He wasn’t. The test revealed that blood was still flowing to Ryan’s brain. He wasn’t clinically brain dead.

However dire Ryan’s prognosis remains, he did not meet the definition for being diagnosed as brain dead. His wife is holding out hope for yet another miracle. Megan said that her husband “may still go to glory yet. This is beyond medical help; this is in the Lord’s hands.”

One person wrote, “Thank God he was an organ donor.” If you have a chance to revisit your choice to be an organ donor, this story may help you make up your mind. Who knows, maybe your organs will save you before they get a chance to save someone else.


Daniel is a conservative syndicated opinion writer and amateur theologian. He writes about topics of politics, culture, freedom, and faith.

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