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Melissa Gallaher Story

March 18, 2013 — 7 Comments

Melissa Gallaher Story

Melissa Gallaher photoMelissa Gallaher is the 25-year-old daughter of Carolyn Gallaher who was crossing the street in Ft. Collins, Colorado when she was hit by a car.

She was taken by ambulance to a hospital 14 miles away from where the accident occurred instead of a Trauma Center which was only 1.2 miles away.


Melissa’s mom said, “I thought in real emergencies, minutes and seconds counted. Why would you deprive the patient of a trauma doctor versus EMT, ambulance versus hospital, bag masked versus a ventilator, blood versus no blood, CSF drain versus no CSF drain, hypothermia therapy versus no hypothermia therapy, HBOT versus no HBOT. When you finally arrive at the hospital 14 minutes away you have been deprived of precious medical care, so your condition becomes grave.”

The Pressure to Get Melissa’s Organs

After the accident the hospital called Melissa’s parents on the phone in Oklahoma and told them “your daughter is “brain dead,” and then they asked,“Have you considered organ donation”?

Melissa’s father told the doctors, “my wife is on her way.”

In fact Carolyn was 10 hours away.

The distraught mother arrived, the doctor appears mournful, shakes his head and tells her that her brain is swollen.

Melissa’s mother asked, “what about drilling holes in the skull to relieve pressure.”

The doctor says, “No that will not help.”

“I want to go see my daughter,” Carolyn says. So she walks into Melissa’s room, and to her utter surprise her daughter is alive.

I start talking to her because they tell you to talk them because they say she can hear you. I tell her that I am here, everything is going to be okay, I love her and she is going to make it. I ask her to move her toe to let me know she is there, and she does. The baby one and the one next to it. She did this four times.

Carolyn is standing by her daughter, feeling pretty good, because her daughter looks amazing for just being hit by a car. All her limbs are intact, she is breathing, and she is told that all Melissa’s major organs were unharmed. Every time the doctors scraped the bottom of her feet she pulled it away.

Yet the doctors told her, “This is insignificant, it is spinal reflex.”

Carolyn thought to herself, “Why do it, if it is insignificant?”

Carolyn’s Aunt and Uncle who arrived at the hospital with her went to speak to the doctors at the nurse’s station while Carolyn went back to see Melissa.

They walked back into Melissa’s room after speaking to the doctors and told Melissa’s mother that the doctors were looking up Melissa’s Oklahoma drivers license to see if it complied with her Colorado drivers license, they wanted to make sure “both” designated her to be a donor.

Within 15 minutes after a 10 hour trip to the hospital, Carolyn is being told that Melissa Gallaher is an organ donor.

What does that mean?

I just got here, she is alive, and can’t I believe for a miracle? I am not ready to let her go, she is alive, she is breathing, and I am talking to her. What do you mean? You want to take her organs? She cannot live without her organs. I tell them I am believing for a miracle, that my daughter will survive.

When she reviewed  the medical reports later she read that her daughter contracted her thigh muscle when they applied toe nail bed pressure. This is significant because the thigh muscle is a skeletal muscle and is only activated by the cortex of the brain. This does not confirm brain death, in fact it is just the opposite of brain death confirmation.

Other signs of life in Melissa included:

  • She started her menstrual cycle (that is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain) 
  • Her temperature was constant
  • Melissa raised herself off the bed 3 times
  • One nurse said she breathed over the ventilator  (the ventilator only pushes air into the lungs) 
  • The day before she died she coughed and breathed over the machine
  • She did not tolerate the repositioning in the bed (this means you are feeling pain)

Carolyn told them she was getting a lawyer.

They told her they were bringing in the Ethic’s committee.

Carolyn invited a lawyer to sit in on the Ethics committee meeting. They go before the Ethics Committee, and Carolyn tells them,”from the minute I arrive before I even get to love on my daughter,they have plans to kill her, just like that.”

The Ethics committee meeting ended by them saying, “we can keep our daughters organs, and they are now off the table.”

Melissa’s mom never knew they were on the table, but the medical report says that there was an “ongoing plan to donate her organs” even before brain death was documented.

In fact, “brain death” was never documented.

Melissa Gallaher Victory or Not?

Carolyn thought everything was going to be okay. It was only later, while reviewing the medical records she found out Melissa did NOT get any nourishment.

“I learned that they did not give supportive care, supportive care is the end of life care, pain management and nutrition, Melissa got neither. If you do not get food, you will die especially when you are weak, in trauma and shock”.

There are so many things wrong in how Melissa was treated at the hospital. It would take a book to write it all out and I hope Carolyn, Melissa’s mom does.

One of the reasons for this blog and my future book, is to alert parents on what to expect if your child or loved one is in a accident and taken to a hospital in a traumatic situation. Yes, you will be pressured to donate their organs.

If they have signed the Organ Donor card, it is a legally binding document if you are 18 and over.

Carolyn made a fuss and stopped the harvesting of Melissa’s organs.

Carolyn, (like myself) has learned a lot about organ donation since the death of her daughter.

Melissa Gallaher’s mom’s own words about Organ Donation:

The operation will take six hours, you do not get anesthesia, and your heart beat on the monitor will go from a normal pace to a frantic pace, from 100 to 200 beats a minute. You could have a heart attack because your heart is beating so fast. And if you do and you die, they will resuscitate you back to life. Then you will perspire; tighten your tummy to protect your viscera, your vital organs. Then the surgeon will say give him some pancuronium in the stomach, to relax their muscles so I can cut through it ( by the way these stomach muscles are skeletal muscles, skeletal muscles are controlled by the brain that is supposed to be dead) then the surgeon will take the knife in his hands and he will stab you in the thoracic cavity, then he will run the knife from your neck to the pelvis area.

You will begin to move your legs, the surgeon will tell them to zap you with some more pancuronium, so the onlookers will not be upset as to how you are squirming. (Shame on the donor for squirming and feeling pain.) Then your heart beat will stop because the surgeon has clamped it off, but you are still alive because you are breathing and your heart is beating. Then he cuts the heart out, you die. Then the scavengers come in, they will de skull, de-skin, de-vein, de-bone you… worse than a chicken your body will be savaged. Then they will sew the skin back up, you will look like Frankenstein.


***If you would like to tell your story here, please contact me as I would love to publish it.*** It is time for the truth to be told by those of us who have experienced the pressure to donate.


Read more about Melissa Gallaher here. Join Carolyn’s Facebook group on Anti-Organ Donation 



This story was written by Carolyn Gallaher, I have not read the medical records, I have only spoken to Carolyn on the phone and via email about her experience. These are her own words and experience. I have edited for clarity.

What is it like to lose a child?

Jamie Caulk When a parent loses a child, it is the worst grief ever. We are on this journey of grief with out loss of Jamie  for 16 months now. People told me and I read that the second year is harder. I would say it is harder in a different way.The initial shock and numbness is gone, but the emptiness and hollowness of your heart is still there. Most people think or say, “I can’t imagine.” No you can’t please don’t try.

There are a lot of grief support groups on Facebook, one of them called Grieving Mothers I joined when it had approximately 1200 moms, it is now up to almost 22,000. That is a lot of mom’s who have lost a child. These groups become a place where mothers can talk about their child, vent, rant, and encourage one another.

One of my favorite groups on Facebook, is Journey of the Survivor, from Grief to Survival. It is a private group so posts don’t go out on your wall.

Most people including family don’t know what to say to you? Should they mention Jamie’s name? Should they not? Will it upset me? The worst is people who think it is “time to move on”. I haven’t had that happen in my circle of friends or family. But a lot of mothers do. Let me be honest, no one really “moves on”, or “gets over it”.

You are changed forever, some call it a new normal.

Mothers Who Discover about Brain Death and Organ Transplants Too Late

Some of most heart breaking stories I read come from mothers whose children had signed the Organ Donor Card and when their children are declared “brain dead” their organs were harvested. They had no ability to stop it. It is a legally binding contract for anyone 18 and over. Somewhere along their journey in grief they discover that “brain death” is not true death and that their child’s organs were taken while they were still alive.

Severally injured? Yes?

In a coma? Yes

But not dead except by the “legal” definition of death.

These moms live with incredible guilt, grief and pain. Bernice Jones said of her torment:

“I have to live with this ugliness and wait to see my son again. This pain-this incredible void-is most difficult to endure. I cannot view his pictures and enjoy the memories of this beautiful creature that God created, blessing me with his birth and life. I am haunted by the TRUTH of what I witnessed and the revealing of his torture and death. My negligence of his foolishness and playing with a gun is a burden all of its own. To allow him to be taught such a perverse doctrine is quite another, this having the ability to take his life given any number of medical scenarios that could have arisen in his lifetime. You see, he had permitted “organ donor” to be put on his drivers’ license at which time the preparations for the ceremonial sacrifice commenced.”

Some moms, like me find out enough about organ donation that they are able to prevent the harvesting on their children if they had not signed the donor card.  Yet they find out the doctors and hospital’s won’t treat their child anymore, their care is futile and they are forced to “pull the plug”. I despise that term, it is so cold. 

Making sense of your child’s death

Memorial bench dedicated to Jamie and Lillian Caulk in Saline, MI Every grieving mother, father and siblings have to make sense of the unexpected death.  I am so thankful for my Ann Arbor Real Estate Team and Keller Williams brokerage. They have been so supportive from the beginning as has our family and friends.

I like what Heather said on her blog Team Carter, “I feel like we boarded a plane out of Holland and landed in an unknown area. It’s not even fair to give this land a country’s name because for the most part it is just plain ugly. The problem with this land is that once you are here, you can never EVER leave. Your passport has been revoked, and you just have to try your best to make a new life in this barren country. A country that NOBODY wants to live in. There is no way that I will ever learn to love it like I did in Holland, but I am sure trying my best to make it a little more beautiful in as many ways as I can.”

I am trying to make sense of Jamie’s death by blogging and writing a book on our journey and the brain death deception. I hope you will subscribe and follow along, leave comments, and ask questions.