Richmond, Indiana

Seara Burton is not dead. Not even close. I don’t care what you heard.

It all started in Richmond, Indiana. It was a day like any other. An average Wednesday. A routine traffic stop. Around 6:30 p.m.

Officer Seara Burton was helping fellow officers with a motorist that had been pulled over. Her K-9 partner, Brev, leapt out of the cruiser to inspect the situation. To sniff for narcotics.

A day like any other. Just an officer doing her job.

Burton talked to the motorist. The driver pulled out a pistol. No hesitation. He aimed for her facial area. He shot her in the head.

Seara Burton. A dog lover. Nice looking. Funny. Amiable. Kind. She was about to get married. She had a familiar face with a matinee smile. She was 28.

As I write this, they are taking Seara off life support. But make no mistake, Seara Burton is still very much alive.

What might happen next if she doesn’t make it is simple. Her organs will be harvested by surgeons because Seara is an organ donor. Medical staffers will wheel her into an operating room. A surgical team will remove her vitals, one by one.

Likely her liver, kidney, pancreas, lungs, heart, intestines, corneas, middle ear, sections of skin, pieces of bone, bone marrow, uterus, heart valves, connective tissue, or parts of her vascular system. Medical teams will ship her donations to parts unknown. Maybe even across the nation.

Meaning, Seara’s heart might continue beating. Her liver might continue functioning. Her kidneys. Her pancreas. Her eyes. Her bones. Seara’s body will not perish. Instead, she will save those who are about to.

Just like Officer Wilbert Mora’s did. He was 27. He recently died in a shootout in Harlem, New York. He was responding to a domestic call.

He was shot in the head. The bullet lodged in his brain, he was taken off life support. For his funeral procession, Fifth Avenue came to a standstill, which never happens. They laid him in the dirt. They committed his soul to God.

But Officer Mora isn’t dead. Not really. Because Mora donated his heart, liver, pancreas and two kidneys to terminal patients. The organs were flown all over creation.

He saved five people.

Every year in the U.S., around 8,000 people die awaiting an organ. That’s about 21 people per day. Nearly one person every hour.

Right now, there are 114,000 people waiting for transplants. They are children. Parents. Teachers. Neighbors. Your family. Your people. The same people Seara is going to save.

Today I talked to a few organ recipients in honor of Seara. I asked simple questions. They were kind enough to answer.

Meet Kayla. Heart transplant survivor. I called as she was eating lunch. She put me on hold to take medication. It sounded like she was inhaling a pharmacy.

“I take a lot of meds,” she remarked. “Usually, I’m on about eleven medications.”

I asked what it’s like having someone else’s heart.

“You’re not the same person you were before surgery. You are literally someone else.

“Something inside you changes. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of my donor. I’m alive because that family made a decision in a time of grief.”

Then there’s Roger. He grew up with cystic fibrosis. When I called, he was about to hike into Grand Canyon. A lifelong dream for him.

“I basically lived in a hospital until my donors could be found. I was going to die there.

“But then my doctor came in and said they found a donor. I started crying. I was like, ‘Which organ?’ The doctor said it was for my liver AND kidneys.

“My donor was a 24-year-old police officer. I’m in the Grand Canyon today because of his gift.”

Right now, doctors are flipping off Seara’s machines.

The blinking lights will no longer blink. The IV drips will no longer drip. Likely, her family and friends have gathered around her in silence, remembering the sacred wonder she brought into this world.

No matter what happens. Seara Burton is not dead. No way. No how.

57 comments

  1. Gordon Walden - September 2, 2022 9:33 am

    Beautiful!

    Reply
  2. Susan - September 2, 2022 9:59 am

    Thanks to a donor my mom got a new kidney and got to have my mom for 12 more years.
    I too am a donor.

    Reply
  3. Michelle Rahn - September 2, 2022 10:06 am

    Thank you thank you!

    Reply
  4. Melissa Norman - September 2, 2022 10:29 am

    Powerful story, again!!! You hit it out of the ball park today! What a beautiful way to start my day. Thank you! God bless you and America.

    Reply
  5. Debbie g - September 2, 2022 10:31 am

    Oh my. What love is being shared
    Prayers and love to all
    And to you Sean for sharing with us we love you and Jamie
    And love to us all be kind today

    Reply
  6. Ann Thompson - September 2, 2022 10:33 am

    Wow. Powerful.

    Reply
  7. Joy Jacobs - September 2, 2022 10:37 am

    So sad for her family. My brother in law is a police officer, I pray for him every day, it’s a dangerous world out there for police officers. ❤️

    Reply
  8. Steve - September 2, 2022 10:38 am

    Be a donor. You won’t need them when you’re dead but someone needs them to be alive

    Reply
    • David - September 2, 2022 12:13 pm

      Well said, Steve

      Reply
  9. Robin Jones Cotton - September 2, 2022 11:03 am

    ❤️

    Reply
  10. Diana - September 2, 2022 11:09 am

    Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  11. Chasity Davis Ritter - September 2, 2022 11:15 am

    Two people I work with are organ recipients. One got a kidney and one got a heart. When the lady who received the heart was in recovery we sent her a big get well card. I wrote inside it “you once gave Your heart to GOD. Today HE gave you a new one”. I pray for those waiting on those lists. I pray for families making the decision and I wonder why more people don’t sign up to be donors. It’s not like we need those parts after we are gone and you still get to take the only important part with you when you go…. Your soul. Isn’t it a neat idea you could be saving lives even while losing yours? God bless those precious police officers and their families. Praying for them as well today.

    Reply
  12. Greyn - September 2, 2022 11:25 am

    Sean these are incredibly powerful words not only in remembrance and celebration of the wonderful Seara, but for all the potential donors who will respond to them and for all the donors already committed.

    Reply
  13. Chasity Davis Ritter - September 2, 2022 11:31 am

    Also something else to think about. I had a friend that passed suddenly by an accident. Because he was an organ donor there were no hospital bills for the family to pay. That’s something to think on as well. You’ll be helping save others as a donor and saving your family from some added debt because face or hospital bills are crazy expensive.

    Reply
  14. Paul McCutchen - September 2, 2022 11:48 am

    always remember to donate. there is a person that needs you,

    Reply
  15. Linda Lewis - September 2, 2022 12:03 pm

    I was blessed to have a liver transplant almost five years ago. Each morning when I wake up, I thank God for a new day on this earth and a healthy new liver. I’m a walking miracle. I’m healthy and very happy. Thank you for recognizing the organ donors. Without them many of us would not be here. Life is good.

    Reply
  16. Alicyn Swift - September 2, 2022 12:15 pm

    As a mother of a 24 year old son who is a law enforcement officer in the county next to where Seara serves, thank you for honoring her and the other officers. And for shedding more light on the generous gift of organ donation. 💙

    Reply
  17. AnnChumley - September 2, 2022 12:26 pm

    You have me crying again this morning. Beautiful.

    Reply
  18. Roxanne Taylor - September 2, 2022 12:28 pm

    After being diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis, my husband received a liver transplant 10 years ago at Tampa General Hospital. We are grateful every single day! Over the years we have tried to give back by mentoring other transplant patients. God has given us many amazing experiences on this journey.

    Roxanne

    Reply
  19. Carol L Land - September 2, 2022 12:45 pm

    My husband is able to see due to a corneal transplant. His donor was a 19 year old male killed in a car accident. He has only that one eye that the transplant was done on over a year ago. His other eye was damaged in an industrial accident about 30 years ago. Without this transplant he would have been completely blind. He is now able to watch and see his only son succeed in business, and watch his grandsons grow, play baseball and football, and join in all of the activities that children perform in. We are eternally grateful and blessed to have had my donors parents donate his organs. God is Good and does take care of all us. Sincerely, Jim and Carol

    Reply
  20. tbell - September 2, 2022 12:49 pm

    Dear Sean, I read three things every morning: a daily Bible verse (God), prayer and blessing (Jesus), and your wonderful column. How does it feel to be part of the Holy Trinity? You are the best writer, ever. I am so proud of you.
    Love, tbell

    Reply
  21. Suellen - September 2, 2022 12:55 pm

    With emotions welling up, praying for Seara’s family, the Richmond community, and all the families soon to be blessed with the gift of life through her sacrifice.

    Reply
  22. Don Basnight - September 2, 2022 1:18 pm

    Guns kill people.

    Reply
    • David Britnell - September 2, 2022 1:37 pm

      Please don’t politicize this.

      Reply
      • Debbie - September 2, 2022 3:23 pm

        You are right. I apologize.

        Reply
    • Debbie - September 2, 2022 3:14 pm

      People kill with guns.

      Reply
    • NMB - September 3, 2022 2:46 pm

      People kill. Guns are just one weapon of choice they can use. Just as are knives, tire irons used for blunt force trauma, plastic bags over the head, drugs, cigarettes, or any other of the dozens of methods used to murder people. Weapons can only do what people allow them to do. On their own, weapons are harmless. In the hands of a killer. They kill.

      Reply
  23. Sherrie L Nicholson - September 2, 2022 1:20 pm

    Oh Sean. I love your blog, subscribe and read it every day. I have 4 of your books and have given them as gifts. Your words move me. I have lived in Indiana my whole life so this story hits close to home. We have prayed for this officer. Keep blessing the world with your words!

    Reply
  24. Olivia Lawrence - September 2, 2022 1:25 pm

    I’ve been an organ doner all my life
    Since my first driver’s license. I’m now 77 and my organs are a little the worse for wear. I worry what they will have to use. I think I’ll feel a little cheated.

    Reply
  25. David Britnell - September 2, 2022 1:30 pm

    The gift of life. So beautiful!

    Reply
  26. Joy Slegers - September 2, 2022 1:34 pm

    If you can find the book. Read, “Not What I Bargained For” by Sandra Wallis. Her son was born with a genetic disease. They live in Sarnia, Canada but winter in Destin. Her son has 4 donor organs & he is alive today because of his donors. He lived on a feeding tube for about 20 years. Now he is married & his six year old son has the same condition. They were told that it wouldn’t be passed along by him, His son, Owen, is now six and just about a month ago received multiple organs too. He was also on a feeding tube. It’s truly a miracle. Thank you for writing this column about organ donation.

    My husband is a pilot, he flies organs to different cities in the Midwest.

    Thanks again. God is so good

    Reply
  27. Cheryl McWilliams - September 2, 2022 1:35 pm

    This is beautiful.

    Reply
  28. John Kerce - September 2, 2022 1:41 pm

    I really appreciate your posts, this one especially since I had a liver transplant 16 years ago. More awareness of the need for organs and the new life people receive. It is a gift of life.

    Reply
  29. sjhl7 - September 2, 2022 1:58 pm

    A beautiful person … a beautiful story! Thank you Seara and all the other organ donors in this world. Thank you, Sean, for sharing their story!

    Reply
  30. Charlotte Burch - September 2, 2022 1:59 pm

    So powerful🙏🏻 Thank you for the great understanding of Organ Donation! Sign up for organ donation today, understanding the gift of life for another is the greatest gift we can to another💝

    Reply
  31. WI mom - September 2, 2022 2:26 pm

    Another winner!
    I’m missing Ed Bear’s comment today. Are you ok, Ed? We care about you!

    Reply
  32. Karen - September 2, 2022 2:41 pm

    I am a senior and am an organ donor. I pray my organs will be good enough for others.

    Reply
  33. Jocelyn - September 2, 2022 3:15 pm

    I am an organ donor. No reason to take them with me when I die. Great reminder that we should all be organ donors.

    Reply
  34. Jane Sparacio - September 2, 2022 3:23 pm

    You are God’s blessing to all of us, thank you. ❤️

    Reply
  35. betty Kelly - September 2, 2022 3:44 pm

    I have no words except to thank their families for the wonderful gift of life they have given to others.

    Reply
  36. Peggy M. Windham - September 2, 2022 3:57 pm

    I love this! I’m an organ donor as well, however, I’m 69 years old. I hope when my time comes I can still help someone with this old body! Thanks for sharing their stories! They were so young!😢

    Reply
  37. Roy - September 2, 2022 4:12 pm

    Sorry for Sears’s family at this loss. What a beautiful tribute to her and all organ donors and their families that make these hard decisions at a very traumatic time. Thank you Lord for them that take this whole Love their neighbor thing seriously and are literally your hear, lungs, kidneys, eyes and so much more in the midst of such unbearable painful occasions.

    Reply
  38. Tom Wallin - September 2, 2022 4:13 pm

    Great story, Sean. It would be great if you could do one of these stories every year to have other people try to help like Seara and your other heroes. My wife and I are both organ donors and have been for decades. Even though we are both getting older now, my hope and prayer is we can still at least each help one person to live a longer and healthier life. I smile just thinking about it. In the meantime, we are both blood donors so we can help a few people now while we are alive. Bless you.

    Reply
  39. Joyce Owens Byrd - September 2, 2022 4:14 pm

    I just found your articles and I’m so overwhelmed and joyful at the words your write!!! It’s exactly what would write if I could articulate it so clearly and beautifully!!! Thank you. Nonnie B

    Reply
  40. Roy - September 2, 2022 4:42 pm

    https://youtu.be/z5ltg534VGU
    Just leaving this here.

    Reply
  41. Patricia Gibson - September 2, 2022 4:51 pm

    God bless her and her family 🙏❤️

    Reply
  42. Me Lewis - September 2, 2022 6:11 pm

    Best Ever! Thank you!

    Reply
  43. pattymack43 - September 2, 2022 6:18 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. I have been a registered organ donor for most of my adult life. As a retired RN, I have witnessed the blessing that a gifted organ can bring, not only to the patient but to their family, as well. May someone make a decision, today, by simply reading your message. Blessings!

    Reply
  44. Rebecca Souders - September 2, 2022 6:46 pm

    Moving…. Your words work magic, Sean Dietrich.

    Reply
  45. MAM - September 2, 2022 8:33 pm

    Your words are strength for all of us every day. You remind us of what is important. Thank you, Sean!

    Reply
  46. Connie - September 2, 2022 11:58 pm

    May God be with her family and friends. Thank you Sean for sharing her story.

    Reply
  47. WayneGina Yount - September 3, 2022 1:24 am

    A life of total sacrifice! Our LEO’S❤️💙

    Reply
  48. Patricia Taylor - September 3, 2022 4:13 am

    Thanks for sharing and reminding us how important organ donation is! I have a nephew who got a kidney transplant from a live donor who was his cousin, 25 years ago. He recently was told he needed another one as this one is about to quit. It has given him 25 years of life and let him watch his children, and now his grandchildren, grow up! You can’t get any better than that! I believe his daughter is giving him this one. He is blessed!

    Reply
  49. Ruth - September 3, 2022 12:39 pm

    So incredibly moving and reminds me why I’m an organ donor. I’m thinking they are both alive with Christ today and know the blessings they left behind to so many.
    Well done good and faithful servants.

    Reply
  50. NancyB. - September 3, 2022 2:22 pm

    Leaky eyes reminding me yet again why I decided to become an “any organ” donor. My sincerest sympathies to the families of the fallen officers mentioned in the essay and to all others who have lost their lives in the line of duty. You will never be forgotten.

    Reply
  51. Gloria Van Nostrand - September 9, 2022 11:57 pm

    What a moving tribute to Seara, the NYPD cop, and all the other noble, hero donors. Thank you for also telling of the one’s whose lives were saved.
    It is heart wrenching and heart happy all in one column. It should be required reading for all of us. You are doing God’s work. Thank you.

    Reply
  52. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - September 15, 2022 9:11 pm

    ❤️

    Reply

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