Death of young Ashland City organ donor gives life to many others

Kevin Hartley (Courtesy: The Hartley family)

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A tragic accident in Ashland City came with a silver lining for a family and countless others.

Kevin Hartley, 21, collapsed while at work late last month. Years ago, his grandfather was kept alive through organ donation, an act that inspired his grandson.

Now, his mother hopes Kevin’s story will inspire others.

“He would just light up the room when he came in,” explained Wendy Hartley. “Kevin was the bomb.”

“He had been refinishing bathtubs, and was overcome by the fumes,” she also told News 2. “He was being rushed to the hospital. I actually made it to Southern Hills before the ambulance got there.”

Doctors performed a CT scan after Kevin collapsed and found he had no brain activity. But CPR provided by his brother Michael hours earlier made it possible to harvest his organs. Kevin’s last wish would soon be fulfilled.

Family and friends gathered at TriStar Centennial Medical Center, reading a letter to surgeons just before surgery, describing the young donor:

Growing up, Kevin was known as the little blonde-headed boy. Now, he is known as the handsome one of the group by his friends but he never knew that he was. He is always fun, outgoing, and a pleasure to be around. He is a jokester and makes everyone laugh. He loves eating good home-cooked food and lots of it. He always has a beautiful smile on his face, lights up the room, and puts a smile on everyone else’s face. Kevin is the nicest, most respectful, and most humble person any of us have ever known. He was loved by everyone and loves everyone except Lebron James. Kevin loves sports; he played soccer growing up and transitioned to playing football in middle and high school. He also loves animals; his cat, Batman, and his golden retriever, Chevelle, love him so much. Kevin loves playing video games and hanging out with friends and family. He could always be found playing with the younger kids at friends’ and family’s homes, whether it was lying around on the floor or playing ball outside in the grass. Kevin loves joking around with everyone. He works with his dad, uncle, and brother and often jokes around that they aren’t working hard enough. He jokes that one day he will own the family business and supervise everyone to make sure they are working hard. Kevin has a strong work ethic and is excited to work with his family every day. He loves learning new things and being able to become the best at them. Although he doesn’t brag about his performance, he is just happy to help anyone. He has even been known to see a homeless person and stop to buy them and their dog food. Kevin is a wonderful person and will be missed by all his friends and family. We are so happy he has the opportunity to continue to bless the lives of so many, as he always has.

“This is not just mom talking about how awesome Kevin was. This is everyone talking about how awesome Kevin was,” said Hartley.

Kevin donated tissue, parts of bone, kidneys, lungs, and his heart. A small part of him, though, now hangs around his mother’s neck.

“Kevin’s ashes are actually in the center heart,” she said, referencing the new pendant on her necklace. “So I can carry him with me at all times.”

Hartley finds comfort in what Kevin left behind, the light he brought to friends and family, and the life he brings to those he’s never met.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with unexpected medical costs.

Donate Life Tennessee says there are a number of ways Tennesseans can register as a donor–at the Tennessee Department of Safety and online at DonateLifeTN.org. They urge everyone to make their family aware of their decision to register.