Sisters Danielle and Lisa Edelman held each other as they stared at the Threads of Life quilt on display at The Community Library Children's Library in Ketchum. On it are memorial squares from families of people whose organs were donated at a crucial and painful time: the moment of a loved one's death.
The quilt is sponsored by the Oregon Donor Program, a 30-year-old nonprofit organization whose mission is to save and enhance lives through the promotion of organ and tissue donation. The quilt is on a tour of community centers and churches. It will remain on view at the library through Friday, May 12.
Danielle Edelman, who grew up in Sun Valley, knows too well the heartache in such a decision and the good that can arise. Her 16-month-old son Max died Jan. 4, 2006, in Bend, Ore., a victim of shaken baby syndrome. Her boyfriend at the time reportedly confessed afterwards, but he has since retracted his statement. He is currently in jail and awaits trial for Max's death.
Edelman's former husband, Jeremy Moore, also is from the Wood River Valley, and his mother, Gloria Wingat, of Hailey, submitted the photo of little Max for the quilt at the behest of the Oregon Donor Program.
Edelman decided to also participate next year with the Threads for Life quilt, and is having an artist friend in Hailey, Rosie McCintire, design another square depicting Max.
When it was clear Max would not survive the trauma to his head, Edelman was asked if she would consent to his organs being donated.
"They don't tell you who they're giving the organs to, but they tell you about them. His kidneys went to a 40-year-old man who was spending five nights a week at the hospital on dialysis. Now he's able to go home. His liver went to a nine-month-old baby boy.
"I wish I could contact the mom of the baby," she said. "She has more time with her child. It means so much. It impacts so many people."
Retelling these details are not easy for Edelman, 28.
"He was a miracle to begin with. I miscarried a few times before him," she said, looking at his photo. With no urging, she pulled out her wallet to show off several more photos of her lively, smiling baby boy—on a beach, in a wheelbarrow with pumpkins, with her.
"Its amazing my little boy ended up saving a whole family, and community, and they get more time. Lisa said to me at the hospital, 'Max is going to go and save lives. He is going to be Super-Max.' It made it less hard to walk out."
Edelman knows how many people deal with such vital questions every day, how many anonymous souls could be helped through organ donation.
"We all kind of think we're immune to tragedy," she said. "This quilt is a reminder there's always good at the end of bad things."