Butterflies were released at Our Lady of the Lake’s Rosary Chapel Garden on Friday as a symbol of new life and new beginnings for organ donor's families and organ recipients.
Among the attendees, the Benoit family, celebrating the life of 5-year-old Xander Benoit. He died in a multi-car pileup on I-10 in Baton Rouge in September 2017. Xander was trapped in the car near his mom when he died
As his mom opened an envelope to release two monarch butterflies in his memory, the butterflies stayed put, fluttering on her hand.
“This is my hand that was crushed. They said my hand was an inch away from his face in the accident and they stayed on this hand,” said Maegen Benoit, Xander’s mom.
“I feel that was his way of saying he's still with me. I feel him with me every day," she said.
Xander’s family donated his organs when he died. One of his recipients also participated in the butterfly release. She said she was thankful to have a donor, and excited when she realized how much her donor, Xander, was giving her.
“I’ve always heard about a person getting one kidney. When the doctors told me I had two kidneys, I screamed, ‘I've got two kidneys?’ I’d never heard of that before,” said Tamara Huggins who received both of Xander’s kidneys.
In all, 29 people who donated their organs in 2017, including Xander, were honored during the service as Silent Heroes.
The Gift of Life Service was held by Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA), Our Lady of the Lake RMC (OLOL), and Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank.
RELATED: Learn more about LOPA
According to LOPA, one organ donor can save up to 9 lives and one cornea donor can give the gift of sight for up to two people.
There are more than 2,000 people waiting on the donor list in Louisiana and more than 116,000 nationwide.
Benoit says deciding to donate her son’s organs when he died felt right. “I’m so glad he was able to give his selfless gift of life to so many others in need.”
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