Drew Lienemann was an honor student and captain of the Waukee High School football team in Iowa. But as he prepared for the next chapter of his life at Iowa State, the senior tragically took his own life.
Although one decision ended his bright future, according to the Des Moines Register, his decision to become an organ donor two years prior ended up saving or improving the lives of 194 people.
He saved two people who were dying, his skin was used to help in nine postmastectomy breast reconstructions, and his bones and connective tissues improved the lives of more than 180 people around the world.
At a ceremony celebrating Drew and other organ donors, his father said, "He impacted so many people in his short life, and has helped even more in his death.”
A man who received one of Drew's kidneys was at the ceremony, but wanted to remain anonymous. Wanda Lienemann, Drew’s mother, read a letter written by the man, which said:
"I wanted to thank you for giving me an opportunity to continue living my life and to be around my family for more years to come. I no longer live life with negativity and frustration, but with hope and love. I am now able to continue forward with life and await for great things to come. Each day I smile more and feel better than before. My daughter, wife and I will be ever grateful for your care and compassion to give me a better life. Thank you, and God bless."
Not only did his organs help others, but his tragic story, and his parent’s strength to share it, has prevented at least one teenage suicide. Dan Lienemann said a parent shared with him a story about his son deciding not to kill himself after hearing the Lienemanns speak on television shortly after Drew’s death.
We’ll never know what Drew’s future would have become, or why he killed himself, but his selfless act to become an organ donor allows him to live on. According to organdonor.gov, one organ donor can save up to eight lives.
To become an organ donor, go to organdonor.gov/register or register in person at the motor vehicle department.