- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS
When the Rev. Anthony Rohlsen heard the call "They're here" he and his family drew together.
They didn't know quite what to say during the Valentine Day's meeting at Beth-el Temple Church of Christ in West Baltimore only that they had waited so long to meet the woman outside.
Carol Butler of Salisbury, Md., had made the decision to donate her daughter's heart after the 15-year-old girl died a little over a year ago in a house fire.
"Hi," Mr. Rohlsen said, wrapping her in his arms.
Miss Butler held on tightly, weeping on the shoulder of the stranger who now had the heart of her daughter, TaKia Marie Butler.
Although it is rare for such families to meet, a family advocate who had been working with them from the Transplant Resource Center of Maryland asked if they wanted to meet, and both families said yes.
Hours before the meeting, Mr. Rohlsen woke up, feeling nervous, his heart fluttering and jumping. He wished he could ask about the teenager and how she died, but he didn't know if it was right.
No words seemed adequate to express his gratitude.
"How do you say thank you to someone who gave you the best gift of your life?" asked Mr. Rohlsen, an associate elder and software engineer who is married with an 8-year-old son.
In Salisbury, Miss Butler, 35, slept just a few hours after finishing her overnight shift at a Delaware poultry plant.
For months, she had wondered: What did the man who had her daughter's heart look like? What did he do for a living?
The family advocate, Christine Galumbeck, rode with Miss Butler to Baltimore.
Mr. Rohlsen, who lives in Laurel, had never been sick until April 2001, when he contracted a virus that damaged his heart. Doctors installed a defibrillator, put him on intravenous medicines and told him he would die without a transplant.
TaKia Butler was a high school freshman who was the youngest of Miss Butler's four children. She was at her boyfriend's house in late October 2001, when a fire broke out in the living room.
Later, investigators would find her with hands burned. They believe she tried to pull her boyfriend, Marcus Handy, 13, to safety.
Rescue workers found her beside the door, her body covering 16-month-old Avier Terrell, Marcus' nephew. They had to pry her arms open to get to him.
TaKia's boyfriend and the toddler died the next day, but she lived for a week at the University of Maryland Medical Center before physicians declared her brain dead. Within a half-hour, her mother agreed to organ donation.
TaKia's kidneys, liver and corneas, as well as bones, veins and arteries, were given to other patients.
"I was kind of hoping another kid her age would get it," Miss Butler told the Rohlsens, her hands wound together tightly in her lap. "But I was moved that you had a son."
Mr. Rohlsen looked at her.
"I'm doing extremely well," he said.
He and his wife are having a second baby this summer, and if it is a girl, he told Miss Butler, her middle name will be TaKia.
Later, Miss Butler brought out the wrapped red box and carefully handed it to Mr. Rohlsen. Inside was a silver frame with a picture of TaKia and three inscriptions: her name, the dates of her birth and death, and a single sentence:
"May you have a long, healthy life."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide