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Living On

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  • Written By: Cydney Anderson
Living On

Throughout your life you always hear about organ donation, but you never fully understand the importance until you are making the decisions for a loved one yourself. It has been almost 10 years since Rick Jones’ passing, and even though it feels like the accident was only yesterday, knowing that Rick left his life while helping others gives his family a sense of peace.

On the evening of June 3, 2011, Rick Jones left his home to enjoy the nice weather by taking a ride on his motorcycle. He visited friends and family and just rode around the Harlan community. While riding, he went around a curved road and lost control causing him to be thrown off his bike. He was Life Flighted to the University of Nebraska Medicine and they did everything possible to save his life. Doctors stated he suffered from a Coup-Countercoup brain injury. This is an injury very few are able to recover from. Rick Jones passed away on June 8, 2011 at the age of 46.

ricky's family

Rick was someone who always wanted to help people in any way he could. One way he was able to fulfil this desire is by listing himself as an organ donor on his driver’s license. Knowing this is something he wanted, Rick’s family knew organ donations was the next step after losing him. “We wanted to respect his wishes and knew this is what he would have wanted,” stated Rick’s wife, Betts.

After the decision to donate Rick’s organs was decided, the Nebraska Organ Retrieval Services (NORS) stepped in to start the process. “They explained all the steps of organ donation in much detail to us, every step that was needed to be taken,” stated Rick’s daughter, Ally. “It was nice to have someone there telling us what we needed to do because we were grieving and there were many emotions.”

It was a long process, but after proper examinations, paperwork, and consent was given, Rick was able to donate five of his organs:

  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Right Kidney
  • Left Kidney

Rick was able to save four lives with his organs. One person received his heart, one his liver, one obtained one of his kidneys, and one person was given his other kidney and his pancreas. “Even though Rick wasn’t physically here with us, parts of him were living on in others. This really helped with the grieving process,” exclaimed Betts.

Throughout the years, there were many milestones that had occurred. One of the biggest ones was Rick’s daughter got married in 2018. Even though she knew her father was going to be there in spirt, Ally felt like if she could have pieces of him there that would make the day even more special. Due to NORS rules and regulations, Rick’s family wasn’t able to reach out to the four recipients until five years after the donation occurred. Fortunately, Ally’s wedding fell outside of this timeline and she was able to write to the four recipients of her dad’s organs. Three of them wrote back and ended up attending her wedding.

wedding pictureTo make this day even more memorable, she was able to meet the person who received her dad’s heart before the wedding. She was able to listen and hear her dad’s heart before walking down the aisle.

The family of Rick Jones share their donation journey to help spread awareness of the good that comes from donating organs. “After I got to hear my dad’s heart, we were able to talk to his heart recipient and hear more of his story,” states Ally. “The recipient spoke about his failing health before his transplant and we thought that even though we lost my dad, it was nice to hear how he was able to save this person’s life and do something meaningful even after leaving this world.”

Rick was born in Council Bluffs on January 3, 1965. His family moved to the Harlan area after his dad started the funeral home business. Rick family included his wife, Betts, and their two children together, Ally and Bradley, and Rick’s daughter Hollie. When Rick wasn’t working he enjoyed being in the outdoors, and could be found fishing, hunting, exploring, and spending time with his friends and family.

family picture

donate life posterMore than 100,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. To find more information on Donate Life Month, as well as organ donation, please go to

A Coup-Countercoup is a traumatic brain injury that results in the bruising of the brain. This is the most severe injury affecting both sides of the brain. The damage occurs to the side under the impact and the opposite side when the brain strikes the skull.

Nebraska Organ Recovery is one of 58 organ procurement organizations (OPO) throughout the country dedicated to saving and enhancing lives through organ, tissue and eye donation. They serve all of Nebraska and Pottawattamie County, IA. Learn more about Nebraska Organ Recovery by clicking here.

Here in Iowa, we have the Iowa Donor Network who is committed to valuing diversity and being inclusive of all team members, partners, donors, and donor families. Learn more by clicking here.