WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Last month, David and Lynn Gilkey lost their 26-year-old son, Ryan Marks, to a K2 overdose. K2 is a synthetic marijuana laced with numerous chemicals. Some of the after effects include increased heart rate, paranoia, hallucinations and for some, death.
“When you lose your child, you lose a part of you,” said David. “It’s completely different from losing a parent and if you haven’t lost a child, you will never know that pain.”
David and his wife are the founders of Rise Up For Youth; an organization that supports troubled kids in the community, so when they got the news that their own son was dead, they could not believe it.
“He started using it when he got locked up,” said David. “He was a good kid and a great father. We begged him to stop, but the addiction just took a hold of his life.”
“Some days are better than others, but today is not a good day,” said Lynn Gilkey who was not able to meet in person on Wednesday.
Two days after their son was pronounced dead, the Gilkey’s were contacted by a doctor who told them their son had signed up to be an organ donor. A month later they received five letters in the mail from Midwest Transplant Network stating that their son’s decision to be a donor, kept families together and saved lives.
“His heart, liver, and kidneys were all used to grace multiple families with the blessing to see each other another day,” said David.
The Gilkey family is still mourning but they said the memory of Ryan lives on through many things, especially his decision to become a donor.
“I could’t believe the impact,” said David. “Ryan has always been a caring person, but this, this is huge for us as parents to know our son did not die in vain.”
“It’s bittersweet,” said Whitni Noyse, an RN with Midwest Transplant. “You see these parents that are so broken over the loss of their loved ones, and then, you see the family who is overcome with appreciation that their family gets the heart or liver or kidneys that they need to live.”
Noyse said one organ donor has the potential to save eight lives.
Those who wish to become an organ donor can sign up at the Department of Motor Vehicles or visit www.YesTheyWantMe.com.
“I’m okay with this today because if it wasn’t for my son I probably would have never really understood what it takes to be a donor,” said David.
Both David and his wife are organ donors and they say they plan to spread the word to others about the impact they can have on someone’s life even once they’re gone.