OMAHA, Neb. — The parents of a 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World nearly five years ago want more families to consider donating their children’s organs.
Matt and Melissa Graves created the Lane Thomas Foundation after their son’s death in 2016. Originally, the organization focused on covering the travel expenses of families in need of life-saving organ transplants at Omaha Children's Hospital or Nebraska Medicine.
The Omaha couple has said they decided to focus on pediatric organ donation nationwide because they wanted to help other families fighting for their children’s lives.
"Because we know the pain of losing a child, we wanted to focus on an issue where we believe we can help prevent other parents from knowing our pain," a statement from the couple reads.
The Graves’ foundation is trying to move beyond the small-scale donations it has been making so far to individual families with children undergoing transplants to raise awareness nationally about the need for pediatric organ donation.
"No parent is prepared to lose a child ever. The loss is unbearable," Matt Graves said in a statement. "Organ donation may seem like a hard choice to make. … But people who donate their child's organs are heroes."
In June 2016, Lane Graves was playing on a sandy shoreline at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa when an alligator snatched him and dragged him underwater. A lighthouse statue now stands near the spot to pay tribute to the toddler.