(Orange, Texas)

Our Community

October 16, 2013

Woman dies, saves 5 lives

ORANGE — One woman’s selfless act saves five lives including her own father.

Tabitha Clifton, a single mom,  was 29 years old when she passed away unexpectedly in August from a brain aneurysm, leaving behind two sons while also giving her own father the gift of life.

Don Clifton, just three months prior to Tabitha’s death, had been told he had one to three years to live due to needing a liver transplant. The liver he received during the transplant surgery was his own daughter’s.

The afternoon Tabitha was found, she said she was going to lay down. She was found sitting on the bed, slumped over. Don started CPR while her mother called 911.

“One officer stayed with us until she was life-flighted to another hospital,” Marcie, Tabitha’s mother, said. “He did not have to do that.”

Tabitha decided only two weeks prior to her death to become an organ donor.

“We watched a movie,” Marcie said. “I said that what could be used [organs], give away. She knew that someone would have to die for her dad to live.”

Marcie said that is a painful thought she is sure other families share as their loved ones are on transplant lists.

Don and the other 4 recipients of Tabitha’s organs are doing well and may have a chance to meet during an all day benefit for Tabitha starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 19 at the Eagles Lodge located at 803 North 28th Street in Orange.

Marcie expressed concern that some of the recipients may feel guilty knowing they are alive because she daughter passed away.

“None of them should feel guilty,” Marcie said. “I am excited about meeting them.”

Marcie also said it was wonderful to know that her daughter was able to help to their lives.

Tabitha’s heart went to a 60 year old man who had 24 hours to live, her lungs to a 21 year old woman, one kidney went to a 15-year old boy, her other kidney and pancreas went to a 54 year old woman and her father received her liver.

“The type of person she was is she could be having the worse time but would always be happy,” Brandi Barlow, a friend, said. “The sad thing is the babies she left behind.”

Don has been unable to work since the transplant.

“The doctor said we can look at it in another month,” Don said when asked when he may be released from the doctor to return to work.

Tabitha’s brothers, Don Don and Tommy, have been doing what they can to help their parents who are now raising Tabitha’s children.

In comes #TeamTabitha, as a group of Tabitha’s friends call themselves.

Tabitha’s friends organized the benefit to help the family with the medical, funeral expenses and future needs of Tabitha’s children.

“Tabitha took care of things,” Brandi said. “That was just the kind of person she was. She would have done the same for someone else.”

The benefit will have BBQ plates for sale, live and silent auctions  as well as All Things Undone, UHNAYUS, and Bronco Jr. performing.

“Tabitha loved Bronco Jr.,” Brandi said. “It is what Tabitha would have wanted. We want her kids to know what a great mom they have and that she saved five lives.”

Marcie said Tabitha’s friends have been amazing.

Marcie said she was so thankful for her daughter-in-law Lori Green for driving Don twice a week to the doctors for check-ups and for the help they have received from the McLewis Church of Christ.

“It shows me the amount of love for my daughter they have,” Marcie said. “We are so grateful for all they are doing.”



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