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Tim’s Miracle

October 1, 2004

Tim and Diane Timmons have experienced a miracle.  Our good friends enjoy life on a modest horse farm in the northern part of Spartanburg County.  In April of 1999, Tim was riding his mare, Goldie, when she became startled, reared, and fell backwards on top of Tim.  Goldie was frightened but unhurt.  Tim, however, suffered a dislocated left hip and a broken left arm.

Following orthopedic surgery, Tim’s recovery proceeded as expected until earlier this year.  In January of 2004, Tim began experiencing pain in his upper left thigh. By August, the pain was persistent and more intense.  X-rays revealed no further complications with the previous injury, but a new problem became evident.  Tim had bone cancer, a slow-growing tumor on the top half of his left femur. 

Tim’s orthopedic surgeon referred him to the M. D. Anderson Hospital in Houston.  A trip to Texas for a diagnostic evaluation at the world-famous cancer center gave the couple the hope of a cure. 

Once in Houston, Tim and Diane learned that the cancer could not be treated with radiation or chemotherapy.  The treatment of choice was to remove the effected area of the femur and then to replace it with a bone from a donor.  The surgery could be performed only after a suitable bone, matched according to size and other criteria, had been located.  Tim and Diane returned to their horse farm to wait.

The wait was less than a month.  The Timmons received a call in early September.  They quickly prepared for the long drive back to Houston, Texas.  Speaking with them the night before they left, I assured them of our prayers.  Tim made a special request, “Dr. Kirk, please pray for the family of the donor.  You know, in order for me to receive this bone, somebody had to die.  Somewhere a family is grieving.  Please pray for them.”

Diane explained Tim’s concern for the bereaved family of the donor.  In May of 1981, Tim’s twenty-five-year-old brother, Mark, died in a senseless attack during a robbery.  The victim of a teenaged assailant, Mark was shot through the heart twice.  Because of the way Mark died, organ donation was impossible. 

Almost exactly a year later, Tim’s nineteen-year-old sister, Ann, was injured in an automobile accident.  A freshman at Carson-Newman College, she was rushed to a hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee, where physicians determined that her brain stem had been crushed.  Ann survived the night but died early the next morning. 

The red heart symbol on her driver’s license indicated her desire to be an organ donor.  Waiting through the night, her family had the opportunity to carefully consider her request.  They consented.  Ann’s heart, kidneys, and eyes were donated.

Following Ann’s death, friends of the Timmons family read an article in the Birmingham, Alabama, newspaper about a man from Mississippi who had been awaiting a heart transplant.  A suitable heart had been found in Knoxville and flown to Birmingham where a successful transplant was performed.  The friends put two and two together and sent the newspaper article to Charlotte Timmons, mother of Tim, Mark, and Ann.

The customary procedure is for families of organ donors and organ recipients to remain anonymous to each other.  The exception is that they can be identified if both parties agree.  Charlotte Timmons wanted to meet the man who had received her daughter’s heart.  Theodis Brown, the recipient, agreed.   When Theodis Brown was able to travel, he and his family drove from their home in Mississippi to the outskirts of Atlanta where they were houseguests of the Timmons for two days.   

At a special meal prepared by Charlotte Timmons, Theodis Brown, his wife, and their three little boys sat at the table with the Timmons family.  Charlotte asked Theodis to say the blessing.  He gave a prayer of thanksgiving.  A black family from Mississippi and a white family from Georgia shared a meal, brought together because Ann, as a teenager, had made a decision to share her heart.  As the Browns prepared to return to Mississippi, Charlotte Timmons invited each of the three sons to select a miniature horse figurine from Ann’s collection.  The tiny horses were mementos of their visit and symbols of their new friendship.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).  One way to heed this Biblical admonition, even in death, is to become an organ donor.  Tim and Diane are back at their home in Spartanburg County.  Tim is recovering from the surgery.  The Timmons are thankful every day for the miracle of life, a miracle they have experienced from both sides.  When it comes to organ donation, giving and receiving are equally blessed.

-Kirk H. Neely 

© H-J Weekly, October 2004

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