Just hours before losing a five-year battle with cancer, an Orange County mother donated a kidney to her 13-year-old son and gave the child a new lease on life.
"She was my best friend," young Justin Brock said Tuesday from his room at UCLA Medical Center. "My mom will always be inside me and I know she'll always be looking over me. She's dead, but she's not gone."
Michele Brock, 32, died Saturday of a brain tumor, shortly after her kidney was removed and given to Justin, who was at the medical center awaiting a donor. He had been undergoing dialysis since his kidneys failed in March.
Dr. Robert Ettenger, director of pediatric kidney transplants at the center, told the Orange County Register that it was "the most extraordinary" case of his career.
A New World for Him
"Justin is 1,000% better. When a child has a kidney transplant, it opens up a whole new world," the physician said.
A kidney was removed from Michele Brock, who was too ill to speak, after she squeezed a doctor's hand when asked if she wanted to give the organ to her son.
Because the mother was not brain dead, as California law requires before an organ can be removed, family members obtained a court order asking that the Garden Grove woman be considered a living, related donor.
"She was a mother who knew she would not live, and she wanted life to go on," Ettenger said.
Doctors said she died of a brain tumor, not the surgery.
Quit Her Job
Michele Brock, who had worked as a secretary in the Garden Grove Unified School District, quit the job four years ago because of her medical problems, her former husband, David Brock, said.
Mother and son became too ill to continue school or work after March, and spent all their time together before the required hospitalization.
Justin learned to cook and do crafts. He and his mother went to movies and studied together, said the boy's maternal grandmother, Colleen Adkisson of Santa Ana.
"They were best friends. . . . This was their special last time together," Adkisson said.
Justin did not attend his mother's funeral Wednesday, but asked that a song he wrote for her be sung. It said in part: "I thank you for the memories you have given me. . . . You are a woman filled with love."