Organ donation gives local family comfort in son's death

Luke LaPine on his graduation day. (Provided photo)
Luke LaPine on his graduation day. (Provided photo)

(FOX19) - A New Vienna couple who lost their 19-year-old son last month say they are still struggling with his death, but his decision to be an organ donor has brought them comfort in a tragic time. 

"Everyone says time heals all wounds but I know that pain's never going to go away. I'm still -- it's still raw. I know that I'll always have that scar. Always. It's a pain that I would never wish on anyone ever. You should not have to bury your child," said Shelby LaPine of New Vienna

On June 9, 19-year-old Luke LaPine fell off a pick up truck while working for the Clinton County Highway Department, trying to clean up Greene Road.

His father, Tom, has not been to the accident site. But nearly two months later, he decided to go there with his wife.

"I'll never come back here again ... I don't want to think any more about what happened on this road. It's not the road's fault. It's not his fault. I am not putting fault anywhere right now. But this will always represent the place we lost our boy," said Tom LaPine of New Vienna.

It's only been a few weeks, but that tragic day is a day neither of them will ever forget.

"I got a call that morning saying he was in an accident and was being care-flighted. Course your stomach drops," said Shelby LaPine.

"I knew it wasn't good. I was a paramedic for 10 years so I knew if a helicopter comes in from a trauma, an injury from trauma, it doesn't look good," said Tom LaPine.

Luke, who had serious head trauma, was rushed to the hospital by his parents.

"I mean, he was seizing and I bent down at his ear and I told him I said, 'Mom's here. I'm here.' And he kind of calmed down a little bit," said Shelby LaPine.

For days, they sat by his bedside.

"While he was in the hospital I talked to him all the time. I told him to fight because he was a fighter. He just couldn't fight any more you know. I always talked to him in the hospital and I believe he heard me you know. He was in an induced coma and tubes everywhere and you just want to take his place. I would have done anything to take his place. You know I've lived half my life. He was just starting and just as a mom you want to do anything for your kid and I couldn't fix this. I couldn't fix it," said Shelby LaPine.

Eventually, doctors told them there was nothing they could do.

"I made them tell me. I said I want to hear you say it. I want to hear you say it. And then he turned around to look at the clock and said time of death 12:43pm. And I just, I kind of lost it. And I picked him up in my arms and I told him I loved him. And they wheel him off you know still breathing his heart still beating and it's always in the back of your mind is he really gone? And you know he's going to be a complete empty shell. That's hard to take," said Shelby LaPine.

Luke died just two weeks after his graduation, a month after his 19th birthday. He was planning on going to college in Los Angeles to become a detective. The hard working, fun loving golfer loved sports and was a huge Reds and Bengals fan.

"I have my good days and bad and it almost don't seem real. I think about his hands, he had really long fingers and that's when it's real to me when I remember his hands and I look at his picture and I thought this can't be real. He's just on vacation. I keep wanting him to walk through that door and I see it's almost like I see him everywhere in my mind. I talk to him now, out loud. I go in his room all the time and just look around, hoping I'll see him standing there. There's just an empty room," said Shelby LaPine.

"I don't understand why someone so young would be taken. But God has a purpose for him. We have to believe that," said Tom LaPine.

But Luke's death gave life.

"When I took him to get his license and they asked him if he wanted to be an organ donor there was no hesitation," said Shelby LaPine.

Luke's organs have been used in more than 75 people – saving the lives of seven.

"I would love to meet all of them -- especially the one with his heart because Luke had a wonderful heart, a good heart. I'm so proud of him. So so proud. I'm proud he was my son. I'm proud of every moment he gave me. And that I love him with all my heart. And there will never ever ever be a day that goes by that I will not think of him," said Shelby LaPine.

In Luke's memory, they have started the "Live for Luke" campaign, encouraging young people to become organ donors and live for Luke. They also set up a "Live for Luke" scholarship fund for an East Clinton HS graduate.

Donations can be made at any National Bank and Trust location.

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