Raymond Craig had a traumatic start to life. At just 8 months old, he suffered shaken baby syndrome and was treated with seizure medication. At 3 years old, Raymond was adopted by parents Steve and Patty Craig. Raymond was the final addition to their rather sizable blended family consisting of their own biological children, adopted siblings, and foster children who were only under their care temporarily. Raymond took well to the large, loving family, and though his brothers and sister were older than him by 10 or more years, they bonded with him immediately. Their new little brother was constantly spoiled and showered with love and attention.
Organ donation was a topic the Steve and Patty were all too familiar with. The summer of her eighth grade year, their daughter Karen came to live with the Craig’s. Karen was born with billeria artresia and spent many years of her childhood awaiting a liver transplant. She received her new liver in fifth grade and her new parents helped her monitor her health and medications through her adolescence. Additionally, their foster daughter, Shannon, was ill throughout her teenage years. As her ailment progressed she was eventually placed on the liver transplant waiting list. Raymond spent many days and nights with his sister at the hospital and at the Ronald McDonald House. The two had a resilient bond. Occasionally, his parents would sneak him into Shannon’s room to spend the night so he could comfort her through those long nights of waiting. Shannon received her liver transplant at the age of 20, but unfortunately passed away two years later-a loss that left a hole in everyone’s heart.
In addition to being impacted by both his sisters, Raymond’s upbringing instilled in him a strong moral compass and incredibly giving spirit. He proudly registered to be a donor when he received his driver’s license, a decision that would come in to play just a few short years later.
At just 20 years-old Raymond sustained fatal injuries in an automobile accident near Puyallup, WA. Through the donation of his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and pancreas he provided six individuals with a second chance at life.
One of those people was Keilah Hansford.
On Valentine’s Day weekend, Steve and Patty had the opportunity to meet Keilah and listen to their son’s heart beating strong in her chest. Upon hearing the first beat, tears flowed from both Patty and Steve’s eyes. From that point on, they knew she was now part of the family.
During what they have dubbed their “heart party”, Keilah, who was adopted, shared information about her life, her disease, and her experience on the waiting list. The Craig’s told stories about Raymond.
They have remained in close contact, and attended the Governor’s Gift of Life Award together to honor Raymond. Steve and Patty gave Keilah a dog tag engraved with the Raymond’s signature to serve as a reminder of their precious baby boy. It hangs down close to her heart and reads, “Love Raymond”.