Jan Legler loves talking about her son, Bryan, “He lit up a room with his smile, and had such a caring and compassionate nature. He loved hunting and fishing, and he always helped others.”
His love of lending a hand was even evident after he died in June of 2011, at the age of 26. That’s when Jan and Gary Legler discovered their son was on the Wisconsin Donor Registry, the list of people who have authorized donation of their organs, tissues and eyes. Learning that Bryan was a registered donor wasn’t a surprise to his parents. “His first thought was to always help others,” says Gary.
They worked with the county medical examiner to honor Bryan’s decision. A total of 73 tissue grafts were created from Bryan’s gifts of bone and veins. Tissues were sent to medical facilities in several states, including Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Minnesota, to enhance patients’ lives through operations such as reconstruction procedures, vein repair and oral surgeries. Jan says she’s happy to see Bryan’s gifts reach so many. “I had no clue so many people could be affected. If I could talk to them, I would tell them how blessed they are to have a piece of him.”
Bryan’s decision to donate was shared with friends and family who attended an event commemorating the one-year anniversary of his death. Jan says many people asked questions about tissue donation and how it can help patients in need. To Jan, that was a fitting tribute to Bryan and how he touched people. “He was a good ol’ country boy who loved a good time and good friends,” she says. “He was just a great kid.”
Gary adds, “Bryan was the best son any father could ever have. I miss him every minute of every day.”