A Son’s Gift of Life Lives On in Two Hearts

Alicia Branley’s commitment to organ donation is personal in a way you would never want to know.

Her 19-month-old son, Braydon, could not be revived after he wandered off and fell into a pond two years ago.

Even as they struggled to cope with their loss, Alicia and her husband made the decision that ultimately saved the lives of two other children by agreeing to donate Braydon’s right and left heart ventricles.

Today, Alicia volunteers as a public-education coordinator with Intermountain Donor Services (IDS), a federally designated, nonprofit community service organization dedicated to the recovery and transplantation of organs and tissues.

IDS serves Utah, southeastern Idaho, and western Wyoming, encompassing 2.7 million residents, 79 hospitals, and three transplant centers.

“This is the one thing that keeps me going when I am having a bad day,” Alicia said.

Deedra Hansen Lambert, volunteer coordinator for the Yes! Utah Organ Donor Registry and Intermountain Donor Services, said Ali is a volunteer that holds “a special place in my heart.”

“Not even a year after she lost her little Brayden, she contacted me, asking for information about our volunteer program, Lambert said. “I was so moved that this young mother, in the midst of her grief, was looking for a way to help others. She wanted to share our message that organ donation saves lives and spare others the loss that she had suffered.”

Alicia doesn’t hesitate to share her story in order to raise awareness and help people understand the importance of organ donation.

“You don’t have to wait until you get your driver’s license to be an organ donor,” Alicia said. “You can sign up to be a donor at any age.”

She said you can grasp the concept at any age as well, adding that shortly after losing Brayden, she and her husband talked to their other son, Gabe, now 6 years old, about how his younger brother had saved the lives of two other children.

“I can still remember the conversation,” Alicia said. “It went something like this:

“Gabe: When Bray died he gave his heart to save other kids right?

“Me: That’s right sweetie, Bray saved two other babies by letting them use his heart valves when he couldn’t anymore.

“Gabe: So two other kids are alive because of Bray?

“Me: “Yep, two kids here in Salt Lake are alive because of Bray.

“Gabe: “OK … so Bray died and became a super hero.

“And to this day when he talks about his brother, he calls him a super hero!” Alicia said.

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