HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Though doctors have pronounced him brain dead and he's been taken off life support, a Northeast High student and football star's giving nature is still making a difference in the lives of others in the Bay area.
- RELATED: Northeast High Player "Completely Brain Dead," Organs to be Donated
- Learn more about NOTE (National Organization for Transplant Enlightenment)
- More Good News stories
At just 17, Jacquez Welch knew he wanted to be an organ donor.
Tragically, Welch's life ended when he was taken off life support Monday. He collapsed on the football field Friday, and once they were at the hospital his parents were told he suffered from a rare brain condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
The condition would have affected him whether he played football or not.
“Quez was a giving person, he would give to anyone and everyone if he had it. He wanted to do this, which is why I am doing this,” said Welch's mother, Marcia Nelson, when she announced that her son's organs would be donated to help others.
Twenty miles away from Bayfront Hospital where Welch received care, a group of three people walked up and down the halls of Tampa General Hospital.
“Hi, good morning. How are you?” said Bella Langston as she stepped into a room. “So how are you feeling right now?”
Langston and two others travel room to room speaking to patients who have received organ donations themselves.
Langston is part of N.O.T.E (The National Organization for Transplant Enlightenment team), a group that knows all too well what it is like to receive the gift of life in the form of an organ.
“Fortunately, my godson, Roger Reynolds, stepped up as the last potential donor and he gave me an amazing kidney,” said Langston.
Walking alongside Langston is Tracy Thomas, who received two liver transplants less than a year ago.
“I am every day grateful," Thomas said. "And it’s sad sometimes, but whenever you are giving back and you see the hope that you are giving to these other people and letting them know it’s going to be OK."
As mothers, both women commended Nelson for her strength over these past few days.
“It means everything to me; first of all, I commend [Nelson] for her courage as a mom,” said Langston. “It takes so much courage to do that. I think as a mom, I would seek comfort in knowing that my child still lives on through all those other people.”
“I send strength and positivity and prayers to that mom for this hard time, and I hope that she gets to know the lives that she has saved and writes them a letter. Maybe she can create a bond with them,” said Thomas.
During their room visits, they stop by and speak to patient Danielle O’Neil. O'Neil is a kidney transplant recipient, and she knows Welch's story well.
“What an amazing act. For seven lives, how amazing,” said O’Neil.
In fact, almost everyone on hospital floor knows Welch's story. From doctors to staff to patients, everyone expressed their gratitude for the young man’s final act.