Bay Area mother regrets not donating her teenage son’s organs four decades ago

Arlinda Timmons-Love of Richmond, Calif. tragically lost her 15-year-old son, Maurice, nearly 40 years ago.

Maurice Lavelle Godfrey was Arlinda’s first born. The star athlete was riding on a scooter when an unknown gunman shot him in the head. Maurice was later declared brain dead; his healthy organs made him a viable candidate for organ donation. When presented with the choice to donate her son’s organs, Arlinda chose not to do so. She has since regretted that decision.

arlinda timmons love regrets not donating son's organs
Arlinda Timmons-Love
maurice godfrey
Maurice Godfrey, son of Arlinda Timmons-Love

“I did not want to accept that he was dead. They explained brain death to me but I didn’t quite understand it and didn’t want to let go. I felt insulted when organ donation was brought up; it was like a slap in the face. Looking back, I wish I would have said yes,” explains Arlinda.

Although organ donation did not occur in the case of her son, Arlinda is now an advocate for donation in her surrounding community. She shares her story as a way to inspire others to register as organ and tissue donors so their families do not have to make that decision for them.

“I want to change the attitudes of African American families toward organ donation. If I had decided to donate, someone might be alive today because of Maurice and at least a part of him would still be here with us. I now tell my community to allow their children to live on.”

“In the midst of opening up this discussion to African American families, it’s a needed discussion. We need to figure out how to help people beforehand so they can understand the good in this.” Arlinda continues to say, “Look at it (donation) for what its true meaning is- to help others.”

Arlinda – who works with ex-prisoners who seek to adjust back to society – also lost two nephews to gun violence. Maurice is the older of two children; a younger sister also survives him.