Tragic death of local teen gives life to six organ recipients

GALT HERALD | Karen Everett Watson

At the beginning of March of this year, Silvia Van Steyn was the mom of Amanda, 19 and a gregarious and “funny” 13-year-old McCaffery student named Michael. Just a few days later, Van Steyn was at her dying son’s bedside experiencing every mother’s nightmare.

“The coroner said it was an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Van Steyn with tears in her eyes.

Michael was taken by life-flight to San Joaquin General Hospital where the doctors told his mother he probably wouldn’t make it. She had him transferred to UC Davis Hospital for a second opinion. When the doctors confirmed the first diagnosis, Van Steyn made an important decision.

“I didn’t want it to seem like his life had no meaning,” said Van Steyn. “I told the doctors I wanted his organs donated. I was just worried how they would treat him during the procedures.”

The grieving mother’s fears subsided when she was asked to have the whole family write about Michael.

“They wanted us all to tell what he was like and what he meant to us,” said Van Steyn. “They treated him with so much dignity and respect. It meant so much to me. They dimmed the lights, said a little prayer and read out loud what we wrote (as they retrieved his heart, a lung, kidneys, his pancreas and his liver).” Continue reading
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