Wendy Hartley has her son’s last heartbeats tattooed on her chest. She asked the doctors to print out a tracing of them after they turned off his life support.
“I told them, ‘I carried his first heartbeat, I’ll carry his last,’” she said, tears slipping down her cheeks.
Kevin Hartley was working for his family’s business when he collapsed while refinishing a bathtub at a Nashville apartment complex in April.
When his father and brother couldn’t get him on the phone, they went to check on him and found him slumped over the side of the tub.
They quickly pulled him out of the bathroom and into fresh air. His brother performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
At the hospital, a doctor told Wendy that fumes from a chemical he’d been working with had caused Kevin’s heart to stop. Though they had been able to restart it with machines, they could not find any brainactivity. He had simply gone without oxygen for too long.
The Hartleys kept Kevin alive long enough to fulfil his wish to be anorgan donor and to give his sister, a nurse and captain in the Army, time to travel from Alaska to say goodbye.