NFFE-IAM National Business Representative/Organizer Jerry McCarty and his family are still grieving the loss of his 21-year-old son, Gus, who died in a car related accident on May 15, 2023. Gus was severely injured in the accident, and doctors determined he would not survive. But his family did not have to decide whether to donate his organs; Gus had already made that decision by checking off the box when he registered for his driver’s license. Gus was able to donate his heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and kidneys.
Organ donors help give people a second chance. Every 10 minutes, someone in the United States dies waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. By registering as an organ donor, it may help save the lives of others. Over 100,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list.
Jerry organizes healthcare workers in VA hospitals in Louisiana and Texas in his role at NFFE-IAM. He also currently serves on the Redwater Independent School District School Board. It’s this work that keeps him going every day.
“Gus was a hero,” McCarty said. “We’ll miss him so much, but we’re grateful for our time with him. He was a good son, and it makes me proud of the maturity he showed by deciding early on about the importance of organ donation.”
Jerry said that he and his wife are still struggling to cope with losing their son, but they find comfort in knowing that Gus’s organs were donated and saved the lives of six people. He hopes that one day they will be able to meet the people whose lives were saved as a result of Gus’s organ donations.
“This tragedy showed me how blessed I am to have the support of my union and community,” McCarty said. “Everyone has stepped up in a big way. I am grateful as an organizer that my work gives me purpose. It’s that purpose that helps me carry on and help improve working people’s lives by helping them organize their workplaces.”
Jerry recently got artist Russell Beydler to tattoo his arm to remember his son. The tattoo was of Gus’s thumbprints and heartbeat, given to them by Southwest Transplant Alliance, the non-profit organ donation organization.
The McCarty family’s story is a reminder of the importance of organ donation.
“I’m so proud of my son,” McCarty said. “He was a hero, and he’ll live on through the people whose lives he saved. We miss him. This will be Gus’s legacy, and he will be with us forever.”
You can register as an organ donor when you renew your driver’s license or state ID at your local department of motor vehicles.
You can also register online. Click here to learn more about organ donation.