ALTO, TX (KTRE) - The death of Alto Football player Cam'ron Matthews could have been the end of his life story, but a simple decision he made months earlier has left a lasting impact on his family.
Matthews died Oct. 17 after collapsing on the football field the night before. It was determined he suffered from an aneurysm.
"We were at the hospital and the doctor came to us and asked if we'd thought about Cam'ron donating his organs," father Ronnie Matthews said. "We were thinking about it, and then they came back and said to us that they found Cam'ron's driver license, and he had checked off to be an organ donor. It surprised us when he told us but not that our son had done that."
Ronnie said they soon got a phone call from Cam'ron's grandfather Kenneth Hackney who was in the Houston area and learned that he was just put on the organ donation list for his kidney.
"I didn't want to be on dialysis anymore," Hackney said. "I had told the family that I didn't want a living person's kidney because if they were to all of the sudden get bad health I would feel bad. I was happy, but at the same time, I was sad because of where the kidney was coming from and the reason it was coming."
Hackney was rushed to a Houston area hospital where he would have the surgery.
"I was happy because I was given a second chance, but it was sad because I was missing the funeral of my grandson."
Weeks after the surgery, Hackney was sitting in his small apartment with his wife, blessed and thankful to have another chance at life and knowing his always has a piece of his grandson with him.
"He was a giver," Hackney said. "He gave so much even after his death. He still gave. That's one thing we need to do more of in this day and time is teach our children to be givers and not just takers. Now, maybe I will take a little bit better care of this kidney since it belong to him."
For Cam'ron's father, the idea that his son is now having an impact on the family means there is a un-explainable peace in his life.
"We actually told him on the phone that now, whenever we hug you, we will hug you a little tighter than we used to because you have a piece of our son," Matthews said.
Since the surgery, Cam'ron's memory has lived on. Every week, teams all across Texas and the nation have honored the Matthews family in some way. The impact has also been felt at the National Football level after Houston Texans Coach Bill O'Brien mentioned the family in his weekly press conference. At the Matthews home in Alto, the quietness that was once there is filled with laughter and smiles of Cam'ron's friends who regularly come by to check on the family. Weeks later, the family is still receiving cards in the mail and dishes of food as a way to help out. Next to the cards are a stack of thank you letters Ronnie is still working to get sent out.
"One day we hope to really go meet as many of these people as possible and return the favor," Matthews said.
Hackney said he still hurts when he thinks of Cam'ron but knows his death is teaching people how to have a lasting legacy.
"I couldn't imagine one little boy having that kind of effect on a community, the state and nationally," Hackney said.