GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) – JaShawn Scott decided to become an organ and tissue donor when he was 13. Four years later, the decision would save five lives and help heal at least a dozen others.
“My son had a purpose,” Keshaunta Scott said of her eldest child.
JaShawn, 17, died in October 2019, several days after the car he was riding in with friends crashed into another vehicle at Sunbury Road and Morse Road. The driver and passenger in the second car also succumbed to their injuries.
“It was devastating, getting that phone call. It was the worst pain ever,” Keshaunta Scott recalled.
The Gahanna Lincoln High School junior was known for his athleticism on the football field and basketball court, his outgoing personality and what his mother called a “heart of gold.”
“JaShawn was very energetic, JaShawn was athletic, JaShawn was smart, goofy, loud, obnoxious,” she laughed. “JaShawn was a cool kid.”
Because he was under age 18, JaShawn’s mother was ultimately given the choice whether to donate his organs and tissue after his death. She explained sharing his “heart of gold” was a bittersweet but rewarding experience.
“His heart is fine. His heart is beating and pumping just like he was here,” she said.
The family put a recording of JaShawn’s heartbeat into a blue teddy bear his grandmother gave him when he was born. It’s become a treasured memento Keshaunta carries with her, wearing a T-shirt decorated with her son’s nickname “Boo Manz.”
The bear with JaShawn’s heartbeat accompanied Keshaunta to Gahanna Lincoln High School Saturday where friends and family planned to honor his life saving gifts.
“JaShawn saved so many lives. And he didn’t know the impact he was going to have just by saying, ‘Yes,’” said Jessica Petersen, the media and public relations coordinator for Lifeline of Ohio.
Saturday marked the organization’s 21st annual Dash for Donation, which raises money and awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation. Traditionally thousands gather in-person on one day, but the event moved online because of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Petersen explained, “This year, we’re doing it virtually and we still have thousands and thousands of people joining us.”
Families and participants were encouraged to hold their own events and fundraising efforts for eight days, a number symbolizing the number of lives one organ donor can save. All money raised goes to Bereavement Services programming for donor families.
With the flexibility to customize their Dash for Donation, JaShawn’s family chose to organize a 5 kilometer walk from Gahanna Lincoln High School on July 11th, starting at 11:00 a.m., a nod to JaShawn’s jersey number which has become symbolic to his mother.
“Anything 11… I say, ‘Hi Boo Manz, I love you Boo Manz and I miss you Boo Manz,” she said.
The group wore custom T-shirts and held signs encouraging organ, eye and tissue donation. They said the simple “yes” checked on a form allows JaShawn to live on in the lives of others.
“My baby is still living. He just isn’t in flesh with me, but my baby is still living on,” Keshaunta Scott said.
In Ohio, approximately,100 people are waiting for life saving organ transplants, including roughly 700 in Central Ohio.
Click here to donate to Lifeline of Ohio’s Dash for Donation.