Tom Bestwick enjoyed the open road, especially the feeling he got when riding his Harley Davidson through the back roads of southern New Jersey with his son, Tom.
"It was the combination of the thrill of the ride, the freedom of not being confined in a metal box, and I'll be damned if it ain't fun," said his son.
On July 17, 2012, Tom Bestwick would ride for for the last time. His 1997 silver CMC motorcycle collided with a Buick La Saber in Quinton, N.J. He was rushed to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, but doctors could not save his life.
But his unexpected death left his family with an unexpected gift.
It was 1987, Tom was 7 years old, and the Bestwicks were celebrating another Thanksgiving in Pennsville, N.J. Tom and his younger brother, Paul, had found a Bungee cord and wanted to see just how far the giant elastic string would stretch.
"It flung back and caught me in my left eye. I went blind instantly," said Tom. "Everything happened so fast. It didn't even hurt."
For the next month, Tom wore an eye patch. Five years later, he underwent an inner ocular lens transplant -- the first in a handful of surgeries to improve his damaged sight.
"Doctors at that time questioned if the surgery would even work or not," said Tom. "I got some sight back amazingly enough. But I was legally blind."
For years, Tom needed surgery to correct the sight in his damaged left eye. His ophthalmologist suggested the idea of laser eye surgery to help minimize the original scarring on his cornea. But Tom hesitated to try such new technology.
"I never put a second thought into a transplant of any sort," he said. "I just figured my vision is what it is."
But his father was a registered organ donor, and Tom and his family began to wonder, what if ...
Tom's aunt asked if Tom could use his father's cornea to help correct the vision in his left eye. A cornea transplant had never been considered. The family wondered whether it was even possible.
Dr. Parveen Nagra, a corneal surgeon at Wills Eye Institute, agreed to perform the surgery after hearing Tom's story.
Just when everything seemed to be lining up, though, Tom's employer brought up a worrisome clause in Tom's insurance contract.
"There was a clause that states it does not cover pre-existing medical conditions," said Hughes.
Hughes made more phone calls, and Wills Eye was willing to donate the corneal surgery.
"I asked Dr. Nagra if she'd donate her time," said Hughes. "She and the hospital said, 'Absolutely.'"
Nagra performed the surgery four days after Tom's father died. When Tom went back for a follow-up checkup, it was the day of his father's funeral.
Tom Bestwick's legacy also lives on through others who received his other organs, including his kidneys, skin, bone and other tissues.full story