Cole Baldwin’s favorite number was 13. It was always the number on his baseball jersey, and it also happened to be the day that he unexpectedly died—just weeks short of his 13th birthday.
Cole was an avid drummer, and he enjoyed sports, his friends, and skateboarding and laughing. He never gave up and always gave it his best shot. People loved to be around Cole, including his big sister Briana and twin sister Kayla.
“Cole had a wonderful spirit and was a beautiful person inside and out,” said his mom, Marta. “He wasn’t afraid to really be himself and admired that in other people.”
The morning of March 13, 2007, Cole was up early to finish his homework. Around 7am, his family found him seizing on the couch and unresponsive. Cole had suffered a brain aneurysm and never recovered. Deciding something good should come from this tragedy, his family chose donation.
“It really has helped us feel like Cole’s life wasn’t wasted to know he now lives on in the lives of many people,” said Marta. In all, Cole donated his heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, and corneas. He saved five lives. One of the lives saved by Cole is Annie Fuglevand.
At birth, Annie was diagnosed with Alagille Syndrome, a genetic liver disease. Annie’s disease had progressed so much she was unable to attend most of her senior year—until she was given a second chance at life.
“Before my transplant I was very sick and I only had a few months left to live. My transplant has given me a second chance at life,” says Annie. “Now I am living life again.”
Annie has made a remarkable recovery, and was able to attend her senior prom and is studying to be a nurse at Montana State University, Billings. Through support from LifeCenter Northwest, the Baldwin and Fuglevand families eventually met and now have a bond that very few can truly understand.
“It was the most amazing experience. It made us realize that Cole’s gifts had really made a difference in the lives of those he helped save and that felt really good,” said Marta. “To me, it felt like the hole in my heart was healing and I was able to feel really happy again for the first time since Cole’s death.” Marta and Annie volunteer as Community Advocates for LifeCenter and often speak together sharing Cole’s story and the impact donation has had on both their lives.
Click here to read more stories of hope.