By Dezimon Alicea, Gary Crusader
Ten months ago, Carrietta Fryerson lost her son D’Anthony. He was the victim in a house fire. During a press conference on October 23, in City Hall, attendees remembered the day and shared memories in a celebration for D’Anthony who would have turned five years old on October 22.
While in the hospital preparing to give birth to her daughter, Carietta received a text message. That simple text message would change her life, in ways unimaginable. The text said “your mother’s house is on fire.” D’Anthony, along with two of his siblings, was in the house visiting their grandmother at the time of the fire. It was a rough, cold winter, and because of the fierce snowy weather, D’Anthony was not able to be airlifted to a hospital. He had to be rushed through the elements, over the streets, by ambulance. D’Anthony’s grandmother and his two siblings survived the fire; he did not.
Just two days later, D’Anthony died due to smoke inhalation. Instead of allowing this daunting moment to become a negative memory for the family, the Fryerson’s tried to find the purpose behind their pain. Along with D’Anthony’s playful spirit and old soul, he was also a giver, according to his mother. So Carrietta and her husband De Shannon wanted people to remember D’Anthony for his kind and giving heart. After some deliberation, they decided to donate his organs.
That’s when Gift of Hope came into play. Gift of Hope believes in enhancing the lives of as many people as it can through organ and tissue donation. The organization, working with the Fryerson’s, received D’Anthony’s organs which went to save several other lives. According to organdonor.gov, more than 116,000 men, women and children are on the National Transplant waiting list as of August 2017. Also reflected in this report is that more than 20 people die every day waiting for an organ donor. We’ve all been asked when we renew our driver’s licenses if we want to be an organ donor. And according to organdonor.gov, 95 percent of people will support organ donation but only 54 percent are actually signed up to be organ donors.
Carrietta recalls the feeling of losing her son on that day. She remembers, “I lost him at 9:05 that morning and at 1:03 that afternoon I gave birth to his baby sister,” … all in the same 24 hours. As she stood at the podium, tears streamed down her face; many people in the audience shed tears as well. Some, were crying in remembrance of vibrant young D’Anthony, but for many, those tears were in amazement at Carrietta, who stood tall and remained poised.
The conference was a celebration of life for young D’Anthony Fryerson. During the conference, Carrietta thanked many people who have supported her and her family during the past 10 months.
Gift of Hope CEO Kevin Cmut delivered kind words about the Fryerson family. First responders to the fire, Jerry Jordan, Danny Hesslau and Larry Tillman, along with Fire Chief Paul Bradley, were also in the audience. Jack Lynch, Director of Community Affairs at Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network said “Lives were saved when these exceptional first responders did all they could to revive this young man, and when the family of D’Anthony made the decision to help others as an organ and tissue donor.”
On Monday, October 23 the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network presented the “Tragedy to Triumph” award to D’Anthony’s parents DeShannon and Carrietta Fryerson.
Carrietta praised the Gary Fire Department, saying, ”We want to thank the Gary Fire Department for saving the lives of my other two children and my mother, who were in the fire, and we want to give special thanks to the first responders who worked so hard to save my little boy. Their efforts allowed us to have the option to choose organ and tissue donation.”
Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network is a not for profit organ procurement organization entrusted by the nation’s healthcare system with coordinating organ and tissue donation, and providing donor family services and public education in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Gift of Hope works with 180 hospitals and serves 12 million residents in its donation service area.