Sam was a bit of a thrill-seeker. He was always the first of his friends to leap off a bridge into a swimming hole or try out a new jump on his snowboard. His drive and lust for life couldn’t keep him down. Even after a fall from a ladder shattered both of his heels, Sam worked hard to regain mobility and earned his certification as a machine operator soon after.
Mostly, Sam loved being outside and enjoyed his job on the preventive maintenance and irrigation team for the City of Redmond, Wash. His mom, Corrie Schumacher, has fond memories of their many adventures together.
“Sam always had to climb on the biggest rocks and get to the highest points. He was constantly looking for another challenge,” she recalls.
In addition to his adventurous spirit, Sam was also caring and compassionate. He was a member of a “Random Acts of Kindness” group at his high school whose mission was simple: spread joy and give back to the community. Through this group, Sam worked closely with special needs students and was described as a goofball, going above and beyond to make people smile.
In July of 2019, Sam was riding his motorcycle home after having dinner with a friend. Sam hit a rock that caused him to separate from his bike. When a driver spotted Sam’s unmanned bike sliding down the road, she knew something was wrong. She pulled over and immediately contacted paramedics. For Corrie, the entire family and his friends, it was reassuring to know that Sam was never alone.
Sam was rushed to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, but the extent of his head trauma was too severe. Corrie contacted friends and family, and soon Sam’s hospital room was overflowing. People from every corner of his life who had been touched by his fun-loving personality, his compassion, and his generosity flooded to his side—sharing stories and supporting each other, as Sam had always done for them.
Because Sam was a registered organ, eye, and tissue donor, those caring and selfless characteristics that defined him didn’t cease when his life ended. Sam’s kindness lives on in the four lives he saved through the donation of his left kidney, liver, heart, and lungs. Many others were also healed by Sam’s tissue donations.
LifeCenter Northwest coordinated an honor walk in recognition of Sam’s gift of life. More than 75 family members, friends, and clinicians lined the hallway of the hospital as he was wheeled to the operating room for organ recovery.
“He cared so much about other people, so it’s perfect that his legacy will be the most amazing random act of kindness. It’s exactly who he was,” says Corrie.
The recipient of Sam’s heart, a registered donor himself, is 67-year-old Jaffar “Jeff” Siddiqui who recently connected with Corrie to share his gratitude for the gift of renewed life and health.
“I am extremely grateful and call blessings on this person [Sam] who decided that his organs should be donated and whose heart I received,” said Jeff. “He has given me life, but also, a full life for my wife and family.”
Prior to his heart transplant, Jeff couldn’t walk more than 20 feet without needing to sit down and struggled to maintain his quality of life. Today, Jeff feels strong again. He cherishes the time he shares with his wife of 37 years and looks forward to sharing many more years with her thanks to Sam’s extraordinary gift.
April is National Donate Life Month and Governor Jay Inslee is honoring Sam and 140 other Washington organ donors with the Gift of Life award to acknowledge their life-saving donations in 2019.
Be sure to register your decision to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor and share your choice with your family.