WALL TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — One New Jersey family turned the worst moment of their life into the most blessed for countless strangers.
As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, the family gave the gift of life after their son’s death.
Little Amaya Rose’s parents, Andre and Erica Thomas, called her their miracle. They thought they couldn’t conceive, and Andre Thomas’ own health was in serious jeopardy.
“I think God sent us Luke so we can have this miracle baby,” Andre Thomas said.
Thomas was talking about Luke Bautista, whose life was cut far too short at just 15 years old.
“He was the most unique, entertaining, creative, oh so very funny, contagious person,” said Luke’s mother, Carla Bautista.
Carla Bautista said her son loved Jamming with his brother to original songs. It was May 2016 when Luke’s older brother, C.J. came home and found Luke unresponsive.
C.J. performed CPR, but Luke never recovered. But his brother’s actions ultimately gave the Bautistas a choice.
They chose to donate his organs and tissue.
Luke’s father, Chris, said the decision allowed him the chance to say a warm goodbye to his son.
“You got to hold his hand. You got to be there with him and feel him,” Chris Bautista said.
He said they walked Luke into transplant surgery
“It’s an amazing opportunity you get in the most tragic, terrible situation,” Chris Bautista said.
Ultimately, Luke saved five lives with his organs and improved about 100 more with his tissue. He will be honored for his incredible gifts at the Rose Parade on Jan. 1, when his floragram will ride alongside 43 others on DonateLife’s Float.
“I call it my rebirth moment,” Andre Thomas said.
For six years, Andre endured dialysis.
“Not knowing if I was going to live or not – was a tough time; really emotional,” he said.
Then he learned Luke’s kidney would become his. The transplant happened on Mother’s Day last year.
“That young man that was a high spirit; that was always, you know, laughing, kidding around — I feel like that guy again.” Andre Thomas said.
And lovely little Amaya Rose was the Thomases’ way of celebrating.
“There was life, yes, in Andre – Andre’s here with us now,” Chris Bautista said. “But he brought more life into the world too. That’s because of Luke.”
One precious life lost, countless made whole again.
Because of Luke’s family’s dedication, the Bautistas raised more than $160,000 for the New Jersey Sharing Network, a nonprofit organ procurement organization. They will place flowers on Luke’s float and attend the parade.