While nothing can take away the pain of losing someone you love, the Costello’s found that knowing Tom made a decision to be a donor helped with their healing.
Beth Costello knows all too well that there are things that happen in life that you cannot control, but the one thing that you can control is how you choose to react. It is this mantra that Beth keeps in mind every time she thinks of her son, Tom, and the legacy that he left behind after his tragic death in June 2021.
Tom was just 24 years old and at the top of his game. He had graduated from UW-Madison with a triple major and was described as “wicked smart,” having an unparalleled work ethic, strong character, and the biggest heart. Tom was an investment banker in New York City and had recently accepted a new position within investment banking. Before starting his new job, Tom decided to take the summer off to travel the world, a dream for the adventure seeker, and was starting his summer by flying back to Minnesota to spend some time with family and friends. He was looking forward to enjoying a weekend at the family cabin in northern MN, with plans to waterski, swim, boat, and even participate in an Ironman triathlon! Tom was a talented water skier and had learned to ski at the age of three. He could not wait to get out on the water on that first day at the cabin. The weather was perfect, and the water was like glass. On that first run, Tom had what appeared to be a minor wipe-out. It soon became clear that the situation was more serious than thought as his friends struggled to get him back in the boat and immediately began CPR. Tom was airlifted to the Twin Cities where doctors made every effort to save his life but found he had suffered a non-survivable injury.
Tom had always been upfront with his parents and sisters that if something were to happen to him, he wanted to be an organ donor. He had checked the box when he was 16 years old and had been a registered donor ever since. With that knowledge, his family did not hesitate to fully support his wishes. Beth recalls, “Tom had overcome several significant obstacles in his life and had given a “Ted Talk” while in college with the message of ‘things will happen in your life that you can’t control, but the one thing that you can always control is how you choose to react to the situation.’ We feel like Tom left us this message and him passing away was this type of situation.”
Beth and family spent the next 48 hours in the hospital while the LifeSource team worked to find recipients for Tom’s organs. Beth adds, “We prayed so hard for our miracle to come true and for Tom to survive, but when we realized that was not going to happen, we took on the mantra that even though we couldn’t get our miracle, we could give several other families their miracle through Tom’s selfless final act of giving. We find comfort in knowing that Tom saved so many other lives and that his presence will live on. He has given other families quality time with their loved ones and hopefully someday down the road, we will have a chance to meet some of the recipients.”
“I am so proud of my son and know that he will always be a hero to so many people. This supports Tom’s belief that you don’t always need recognition for doing the right thing.”
– Beth Costello
Beth believes that part of the healing process was knowing that Tom had made that decision to register as a donor when he was 16 years old and had been open in sharing that decision with his family. Being an organ, eye and tissue donor helps him live on and continues his legacy of giving back to others. “I am so proud of my son and know that he will always be a hero to so many people. This supports Tom’s belief that you don’t always need recognition for doing the right thing".
You can leave the people you love instructions in case the unexpected happens. Registering as a donor is one way to tell your family what you want. Sharing your decision to be a donor gives loved ones confidence in fulfilling those wishes.