At the young age of 9, Caleb Lee of south St. Louis County already had an impressive reputation for helping those around him.
“At this school, he was nominated two years in a row for Falcon of the Month. It’s a reward for helping people when no one is looking,” said Caleb’s father, Dennis Lee.
So when it came to the end of Caleb’s young life in early May, 10 days after a horrific car crash, his parents had no doubts about one of the difficult decisions facing them.
Lee said, “He almost made the decision for us because we know that’s just the kind of kid he was.”
They decided to make Caleb an organ donor. Though, they didn’t know at the time who he might help.
“Up until that point, we just knew they were going to donate as much as he was eligible for,” Lee said.
But this week, the family got a special letter from Mid-America Transplant. It detailed a little bit of information about the people Caleb helped save.
They include a 55-year-old woman from Florida, a 31-year-old woman from Missouri and a 53-yea-rold woman from Ohio.
At least one recipient had been waiting for a transplant since 2014.
All the transplants were a success, except for one young girl whose story hits too close to home for the Lee family.
Another 9-year-old, who received Caleb’s liver, didn’t recover from the surgery and passed away in early May.
Lee said, “We know what they’re feeling right now. That one is tough to swallow.”
Still, he believes Caleb would be so proud to know that even in his death, he’s still helping others.
“For your child to be able to donate as many organs as they can to help other families means so much. It’s a part of him that lives on,” Lee said.
It’s a legacy of hope built on the gift of life.
Lee said, “It doesn’t take the pain away, but it definitely brings some joy to the situation.”
One day, the Lees hope to meet the people Caleb helped.