Ashley Harris, the wife of three-time Pro Bowler Tommie Harris, unexpectedly died days before Valentine’s Day five years ago. He says he found out the news on the internet.
In an extremely moving piece for The Players’ Tribune, Harris recapped the awful situation. Harris’ wife was in Oklahoma, having just had routine breast reduction surgery, when she slipped into a coma while resting after the procedure. Harris rushed up to Oklahoma, where he spent three days. While out at a church, his wife passed away, and instead of being called by the doctors, he was told by someone who saw it online.
For three days I stayed at the hospital with Ashley. The waiting room would fill up with family and friends during the day, and then empty out at night. Then fill, then empty. On the third day, I was sitting in the chapel, praying for a miracle, when somebody burst in.
“Have you seen this?”
It was a news article. It said something like, Tommie Harris’s wife has died of a brain aneurysm.
I rushed to Ashley’s room. The doctor was there, and there were people coming in behind me. I didn’t know who they were. I yelled at the doctor.
“What’s going on?”
He explained to me that the other people coming into Ashley’s room were there to harvest her organs. There had been a miscommunication somewhere … something lost in translation. The ventilator hadn’t been keeping Ashley alive so that she would have a chance to pull through. The brain aneurysm she had suffered had done too much damage. She was gone. The ventilator had been keeping her body working so that her organs could be harvested for donation.
My wife had passed away, and I found out over the Internet.
After the tragic loss Tommie Harris decided to step away from football for good, turning down a tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in order to raise his kids directly.
Harris’ story over at The Players’ Tribune is absolutely worth a read.