2017 Ishmiel Ward
Organ and Tissue Donor
Age 20 ~ Cathedral City, California
Donated on 6/9/2011
at Desert Hospital
Honored by donatelifecalifornia.org
Ishmiel Ward’s family remembers him as a gentle giant with big, bright eyes and a most beautiful smile. His sister describes him as sweet, loving, and always there when she needed him. Despite a rough childhood, Ish did well in school, was involved in church, and aspired to join the military. Tragically, in June 2011, Ish’s life was cut short. When approached about organ, eye and tissue donation, Ish’s family thought of his generous spirit and big heart and knew he would say yes. His organs saved three lives, including his great aunt’s in a directed donation, and his tissue healed countless others. Today, Ish’s family keeps his memory alive by sharing his story and being involved in the Donate Life Community.
Ishmiel Ward’s family remembers him as a gentle giant with big, bright eyes and a most beautiful smile. His sister describes him as sweet, loving and always there when she needed him. To his older cousins, Shawnika and Adrian, he was a brother they never had. “Ish”, as his family called him, is forever a hero.
Despite a rough childhood, Ish did well in school and envisioned getting out of the troubled community in which he was raised. He looked forward to family gatherings, was involved in church and youth group activities, and expressed a desire to go into the military. Sadly, though, he also struggled with depression and found it difficult to make the changes he wanted for himself. In June of 2011, after a long, hard-fought battle, Ish’s life was tragically cut short.
When approached about organ, eye and tissue donation, Ish’s family thought of his generous spirit and big heart. They realized they could no longer help him, but he still had love to give. Their thoughts turned to his great aunt, a nurse in New York, who was dreading dialysis after more than a decade of good health thanks to a first kidney transplant. In their time of tragedy, Ish’s family not only agreed to donation, they made a direct kidney donation to his great aunt. Her second kidney transplant gave her a few more quality years with her husband, children and grandchildren. Ish’s lungs, liver, and other kidney and pancreas saved three other people in Southern California; and his gifts of bone tissue helped countless others.
Today, Ish’s family keeps his memory alive by sharing his donation story and being involved in the Donate Life community. His aunt, Shirley Howell, works for the California Department of Motor Vehicles where customers have the opportunity to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. As a manager, she talks about her nephew and her family’s experience during the donation process to educate her employees so they can educate and inspire the community.
“We are a big, close family and we all saw organ and tissue donation as a way for him and us to pay it forward,” says Shirley. “The pain of losing Ish will never go away. But, his last act as a donor is a comfort because we know he lives on in others.”