Butterfly release: Young boy killed in wreck among those honored for donating organs

Butterfly release: Young boy killed in wreck among those honored for donating organs
5-year-old Xander Benoit's organs were donated.
5-year-old Xander Benoit's organs were donated.
The Benoit family released butterflies in Xander's memory.
The Benoit family released butterflies in Xander's memory.
Tamara Huggins received both of Xander's kidneys.
Tamara Huggins received both of Xander's kidneys.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - 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.

RELATED: LOPA honors 5-year-old killed in crash

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.

SILENT HEROES

  • Alexis Molliere
  • Alvin Williams
  • Andre Wright
  • Anetra Lathers
  • Anthony Dowden
  • Bryant Lee, Jr.
  • Caleb Wilson
  • Chelsea Kelly
  • Cody Wicker
  • Curt Eysink
  • David Williams
  • David Young
  • Emma Walker
  • Gabriel Paubel
  • Jason Curtis
  • Karsey King
  • Nash Bennett
  • Randy Falgoust
  • Reese Graham
  • Robin Hartzog
  • Ronnie Joseph, Jr.
  • Roy Pollard
  • Salone Green III
  • Shannon Magee
  • Styrling Kelley
  • Telles Isbell
  • Terrell Brown
  • Whitney Cotton
  • Xander Benoit

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.

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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