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Bloomington organ donor's gift is recognized at Carle BroMenn memorial

Carle organ donors.jpg
Lyndsay Jones
/
WGLT
Representatives from Carle BroMenn Medical Center and Illinois-based organ donation nonprofit Gift of Hope lead a memorial service for Theo Briggs, a Bloomington man who donated his organs after he died last year, on Tuesday in Normal.

Many stories of organ donation focus on the recipient of the donation — the person who, without it, may not have continued to live.

But on Tuesday afternoon, during a small memorial outside of Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, it was a donor who was on the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Theo Briggs was a Bloomington man who died last year at the age of 49. He was an organ donor, one of six managed by Carle BroMenn last year, all of whom contributed to saving 18 lives.

“Every day, I grieve my brother,” said Corey Briggs, who was present at the memorial. “I cry. I’m a big, 6’4”, 200-something pound man, and I cry. I grieve for him, but what makes it feel better is knowing a solace in that he’s on this Earth, somewhere, in someone else, living forth. That’s the only thing that makes me feel better.”

"If you can give somebody else that gift of hope, a gift of life, the future — that is love."
Corey Briggs, whose late brother was an organ donor

Briggs, other family members and staff from both Carle BroMenn and an Illinois organ donation nonprofit gathered to speak a litany and watch a purple flag raised in honor of Theo Briggs and other organ donors.

Laurie Round, the vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer at the hospital, told attendees that every eight minutes in the U.S., someone on a donation waiting list dies. She said the Urbana-based healthcare system works closely with Gift of Hope, a nonprofit that facilitates and encourages donations. Across the country, around 120,000 people are on waiting lists for donations; about 5,000 of those people are in Illinois.

“Without a donor, there’s no story, no hope, no transplant,” she said. “But when we have donors, life springs from death … and a terrible loss actually becomes a gift.”

She said Theo Briggs’ donation in particular was recognized Tuesday because of Corey Briggs’ service to the hospital. A five-year employee, Corey Briggs is a tray runner, bringing food to patient rooms.

“He’s always upbeat, he’s always got a positive attitude, he makes the patients smile,” Round said. “This was a chance to honor him and his brother at the same time.”

Corey Briggs said he had trouble sleeping the night before and woke up Tuesday morning feeling anxious. He said the memorial to organ donors, including his brother, and the raising of a purple flag from Gift of Hope at the hospital, showed “love and support and … kind of made me feel better.”

He encourages anyone who is able to follow his brother’s lead.

“Donate your organs, your tissues, whatever you can,” he said. “If you can give somebody else that gift of hope, a gift of life, the future — that is love. That’s what I’ve come to realize out of all of this.”

Learn how to join the Gift of Hope donor registry.

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Lyndsay Jones is a reporter at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021. You can reach her at lljone3@ilstu.edu.