A Donor Family Story - Knitting to Heal and Give Back
To watch Andrew Max Davis work his magic on the small screen is to step back in time. In the 1990s, the child actor was in multiple TV shows and commercials, including, memorably, General Mills’ ‘KIX are for kids’ campaign. With presence beyond his years, he had the makings of a future star. But it wasn’t to be. In 2007, Andrew was killed in a car crash. He was 17 years old.
For Andrew’s mother, Sharon Jones, now an employee of Mount Sinai, it was a defining moment. Though initially uncomfortable with the idea of organ donation, when asked, she agreed. Upon getting home from the hospital she found an organ donor card in Andrew’s wallet – affirming for her that it was the right thing to do.
Six years later, that decision – and the knowledge of the 90 lives that Andrew thus helped heal or save – remains a major source of solace. But it was hardly enough to blunt the pain. For that reason, three years ago, Sharon took up knitting. It proved to be powerful therapy. “When you lose a child, it doesn’t go away,” says Sharon. “The knitting keeps me thinking about something else.”
Realizing that knitting was something others could benefit from as well, a year and a half ago, Sharon decided to begin an informal class. She hung up posters around the hospital and more than 30 people showed up. Many of them meet daily still.
Today, the group’s purpose has grown beyond propagating the craft to making blankets for donor families as part of an initiative called “Sean’s Gift.” Named for a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran who died after getting hit by a car in his hometown, the project was started by his mother, Marie LaPersonerie, whose friend gave her a blanket to wrap Sean in before his organs could be recovered. Finding that blanket to be a source of comfort and connection after Sean’s death, she started the project to provide blankets to families in similar situations.
For Sharon, it was only a natural initiative to get involved with. The group has already made five blankets specifically for families at Mount Sinai and is working on their sixth. Adding extra poignancy to effort, for Sharon, is the fact that Mount Sinai is where Andrew as born. “He was born here, so I’m trying to continue his story here,” says the halcyon mom. “I’m just trying to do my part to keep his story going – but also to help other people.”