On April 19, 2011 my son Michael was a passenger in a single car accident. Unfortunately his injuries resulted in brain death and he passed away the very next day. Michael had just turned 18 years old on April 14th and on April 18th, just one day prior to the accident he came to the town hall with me to sign as a witness on my marriage application for my wedding which was only 11 days away.  Michael was my only child and was extremely excited to give me away. He was also looking forward to joining into a new family and starting college. I made the decision to donate my son’s organs without any hesitation since I knew that being the kind, giving person he was, this was exactly what he would have wanted me to do. I have since been notified that Michael’s generous gifts saved several lives and gave a person the gift of sight. I have already heard from his liver recipient, a woman who also had only one son and is now able to be here to see the birth of her first grandchild. I have been so proud of my son and he continues to make me proud knowing the impact he made during his life and is now making it possible for others to continue their lives.

Jersey Shore University Medical Center showed great appreciation for our gift. They raised a donate life flag in Michael's honor and he now has a brick in their Organ and Tissue Donor Memorial garden.

Memories of Michael:

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Rob Pettinheo:

“I lost the closest person I’ve ever had to a brother. Mike was the nicest guy I’ve ever had the honor to meet in my life. Had it not been for Mike I would not be here today. He became my best friend exactly one year before he passed away. I had been planning on ending my life that very day Mike talked me out of it. From that day on he helped me through my depression and taught me how to be the best person I could be. He helped me to smile just by being a friend. I was very shy and didn’t like people.  He helped me to be more open and showed me how to make friends. I can honestly say that he made a huge impact in my life. He told me that no matter how upset I got and how down I was, things could only get better.  I will always miss my brother.”

Joe Garnett:

“I finally figured out that the advice he gave me after my first wrestling match, it wasn’t really just about wrestling, it was about life.  He said “Hey, you lost and it’s going to happen. You just have to get some experience and learn different moves. You have to go out there and make some changes. You just have to keep at it and it will come naturally to you. You will do better next time you just have to believe in yourself first”.  I know he cared. He was one of the most caring and loving people I have ever met. I miss him and love him more than anyone could ever understand. 

Courtney Cicconi:

“Words cannot describe Mike. If you had to pick just one, I wouldn’t be able to do it. He was there for everyone; which is why everyone and their families loved him so much. Mike was that one of a kind person who you could just run to for help, a good laugh, or just to say hi. I’ll always remember being in lunch sitting with him, he would always listen to me rant and rant on and on, and all he would do was smile and make everything all better. Hanging out with him for even five minutes was perfect, just because of the way he was. Mike was the most artistic and creative person I know and to this day I strive to be the artist he was. Mike always inspired me and everyone else around him. He was the world’s nicest, artistic, talkative and best guy out there. Every day I wish he was here and every day I envision that smile he wore even when something was wrong. He was amazing in every way and words honestly cannot describe the person he was. Let’s just say if you met and talked with Mike, you would know what I am talking about, and I think I speak for everyone, in saying that if you knew him, you could never, ever forget him.

Lori Tancredi, a donor mother, with some help from her son’s friends, graciously wrote this about her son and hero, Michael. Lori knows first-hand how saving others through the gift of life—helps keep the memory of their loved one alive. To register as an organ and tissue donor, visit your local Motor Vehicle Agency or www.NJSharingNetwork.org.