The University Medical Center of Southern Nevada hosted its first-ever Honor Walk for Michael Sigler, a 17-year-old boy who was involved in a motorcycle accident just one week ahead of his high school graduation.
Dozens of doctors, staff, patients and family members lined the halls of the UMC in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 23 to join Michael Sigler on his final journey before entering the surgery room to donate nine of his organs and save nine lives.
Footage of the emotional moment was shared on the hospital’s Facebook page, where they explained that “in tribute to Michael’s noble and selfless decision to be an organ donor, UMC hosted its first-ever Honor Walk.”
Before reaching their destination, the heart-wrenching video shows Michael’s father, Charles Sigler, wailing as he kisses his son goodbye and promises “I will see you again, baby. I promise.”
Then, the heartbroken father tells people surrounding his son:
“My baby boy made a decision to do this — a conscious decision to do this to share the gift of life with whoever is going to receive it. So please know we’re in the presence right now of an angel!”
“I will never be more grateful for anything than for having been blessed for being his father. I love you more than I could ever say.”
Michael’s mom, Courtney Kaplan, told PEOPLE of the honor walk that it was a bittersweet moment.
“It was absolutely overwhelming,” she recalled. “I looked up from my point of view, and all I could see on the horizon were people almost lining the gates of heaven… I couldn’t see the floor. I almost felt like we were floating — like we were gliding through this guided journey.”
Michael had been living as an organ donor for only a few months. He decided it after his 18th birthday when he visited the Las Vegas DMV with Courtney to get his motorcycle driving license.
The teen had bought the motorcycle with his own money, as it was something he wished for years. While he was filling the paperwork for his license, Courtney recalls he didn’t hesitate when he reached the organ donor section.
“As kind and as generous as he was, that, to me, was a whole other level of being selfless, of generosity and being giving,” she said. “After that day, he was very engaged in the conversation.”
Only a few months later, Michael was driving his motorcycle around his community when he collided with a vehicle, which was driven by one of his fellow senior classmates.
Although Michael didn’t suffer any internal damage or extreme external injuries, doctors explained to his parents that he suffered an impact on the head that left him unconscious right away and eventually led to his brain death.
“I’m being told the initial impact was so hard, that he was knocked unconscious,” Kaplan said. “He didn’t suffer, not for a second, which brings a lot of peace.”
Courtney and Charles were faced with the harsh truth of never seeing their son wake up never again, so they took the painful decision to take him off life support and, as he wished, donate his organs.
Although Kaplan still doesn’t know who will receive Michael’s organs, she hopes to meet all of the people that will carry her son with them.
“I am eager to hear his heartbeat again, and I’m eager to hear the breath of life through his lungs again,” she explained. “They are now family in my eyes… We have nothing but love and honor for them to be able to help Mikey live on.”
Rest in peace, Michael.
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