I recently read "Miracle At Exit Number 3" - an autobiography written by my friend and former co-worker in crime prevention, Thomas Kelly Cooper.
Tom Cooper was a normal kid growing up in Paducah, Kentucky. He went to school, played sports, attended church, played with his brothers and sister, loved his parents... just your average red-blooded American kid growing up in a simple world. He graduated from college and worked for his father's accounting business for a couple of years before relocating to Morehead, Kentucky, to help open a campus ministry at Morehead State University. It was there that he began feeling sick and weak - to the point where he had to return home. As it turned out, Tom's kidneys were failing due to a medication he was given as a baby and his life was about to change.
At age 24, Tom was on dialysis and his only chance at anything resembling a normal life was a kidney transplant. Enter Ed Cooper, Tom's younger brother. Without hesitation, Ed volunteered to give up one of his healthy kidneys to his big brother.
"He was seven years older than I was," said Ed. "He's the one who helped me learn to read and write, throw a baseball, hit a baseball. He has always been my hero. I really don't consider it anything special on my part because I think most people in that situation and with that opportunity would do the same thing."
Today, more than 35 years later, Tom and Ed are two of the longest living organ recipients and organ donors in the country. Tom is here because of God's grace and a brother whose selfless generosity allowed him to give the "gift of life."
Miracle At Exit Number 3 is a poignant story of love, family, faith, tragedy, triumph and thanksgiving. The family's strong faith allowed them to overcome many hardships and maintain a positive, loving outlook on life. Tom's personal faith led him through difficult times to the triumph of a full life and a family of his own.
I wholeheartedly recommend reading Tom's book. I have no doubt everyone who reads it will find something in the story with which to identify - whether it be a life changing event of their own or something as simple as playing baseball with the kids in the neighborhood as a child. Tom's book is a tribute not only to the doctors who performed the surgeries that saved his life but to his brother Ed, who literally gave a piece of himself so Tom could survive.