A Life Everlasting
The Extraordinary Story of One Boy’s Gift to Medical Science
A Washington Post bestseller and Topaz List selection
When Sarah Gray received the devastating news that her unborn son Thomas was diagnosed with anencephaly, a terminal condition, she decided she wanted his death—and life—to have meaning. In the weeks before she gave birth to her twin sons in 2010, she arranged to donate Thomas’s organs. Due to his low birth weight, they would go to research rather than transplant. As transplant donors have the opportunity to meet recipients, Sarah wanted to know how Thomas's donation would be used.
That curiosity fueled a scientific odyssey that led Sarah to some of the most prestigious scientific facilities in the country, including Harvard, Duke, and the University of Pennsylvania. Pulling back the curtain of protocol and confidentiality, she introduces the researchers who received Thomas’s donations, held his liver in their hands, studied his cells under the microscope.
Sarah’s journey to find solace and understanding takes her beyond her son’s donations—offering a breathtaking overview of the world of medical research and the valiant scientists on the horizon of discovery. She goes behind the scenes at organ procurement organizations, introducing skilled technicians for whom death means saving lives, empathetic counselors, and the brilliant minds who are finding surprising and inventive ways to treat and cure disease through these donations. She also shares the moving stories of other donor families.
A Life Everlasting is an unforgettable testament to hope, a tribute to life and discovery, and a portrait of unsung heroes pushing the boundaries of medical science for the benefit of all humanity.
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“An informative account of the various aspects of organ donation and an inspiring affirmation of the potential value of every life, however brief.”
“Sarah Gray’s A Life Everlasting proves that it’s not tragedy that defines us; rather, it’s the way we handle tragedy that leaves an indelible imprint on the future. ”
—Matthew Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy
“Both poignant and uplifting, A Life Everlasting is not just the story of Thomas Gray; it is also the story of researchers and donation facilitators. Most of all, it is a story of how science can give meaning to both life and death.”
“Gray writes movingly of the loss of her son, the research it aided, and the career to which it led her at the AATB as an advocate for organ and tissue donation. With this remarkable account, Thomas’s legacy will continue to inspire.”
“Sarah Gray’s memoir chronicles her journey toward healing after her newborn son’s death as well as her fascinating quest inside the world of organ, eye, and tissue donation. She takes us far beyond just checking a donation box on our driver’s license and into the cutting edge research that strives to improve lives worldwide. This lovely book is a reminder that even the shortest lives can make a big difference.”
—Anna Whiston-Donaldson, New York Times bestselling author of Rare Bird
“A profound tribute to a child deeply loved, Sarah Gray’s A Life Everlasting is a gripping exploration of the meaning of life after loss. Part memoir, part investigative journalism, Gray leaves no stone unturned in her riveting quest to trace her infant son’s donations. Beautifully written, a memoir quite unlike any other, A Life Everlasting is more than just another book about grief. It is a moving testament to life, to resilience, to a mother’s unshakeable love. It is, in its entirety, a gift. ”
—Caitriona Palmer, bestselling author of An Affair with my Mother
“It’s a great book for parents, medical personnel, or anyone wanting to turn a very bad thing into a very good book.”
—The Bookworm Sez
“One of my selections for Best Non-Fiction of 2016. I found A Life Everlasting to be a wonderful book, and a cherished tribute to this little soul who lived such a short life, but continues to help so many.”
“Gray’s own curiosity and energy in pursuing the channels of donation to research pull the reader along with her. This book is ideal for people who already loved learning about Henrietta Lacks or who wanted to but found that book overwhelming...This is a book for anyone who is interested in science, health or medical research, organ donation, or grief/process memoirs.”
—Reverend Julia Seymour, RevGalBlogPals
“Although she knew her child could never live, Sarah Gray’s decision to see her pregnancy to full term, and her decision to donate her son's body to research, required an almost unworldly combination of love and steely resolve. A heart-wrenching but uplifting story.”
—Reg Green, author of The Nicholas Effect