Country singer Granger Smith and his wife Amber tragically lost their three-year-old son, River, last month when the toddler accidentally drowned. The couple has been open with their fans throughout their pain, sharing stories of their son sharing special moments they had with him before his death. Now Amber Smith is revealing that her son was able to save the lives of two others thanks to organ donation.
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Where do I even begin? This has been the most horrific, life-altering, soul-defining 2 weeks of our lives. We went from such a happy, fun-loving, exploring, dancing, party of 5, to hitting our knees, praying, asking why God, how God, and to losing our youngest son in a matter of minutes. It all happened so fast. We spent the next 2 days in the hospital praying that our little Riv would be healed. We had hundreds of prayer warriors behind us, but God had other plans for our angel, bigger plans. If you believe in our God like we do, we know now that Riv was sent to this Earth so we could experience his joy, laughter and love for 3 years. And then Jesus came and took his hand before he went under and took him home. God didn’t bring our little boy back to us, but God and Riv performed at least 2 other miracles that day for other mamas and daddies praying that someone would help save their child. Grief is such a strange thing. One minute you feel like you have the strength of a lion and you can handle what God has given you, the next you’re sitting by your son’s crib, holding his blanket and crying so hard that no tears or sound comes out, or punching your steering wheel crying and screaming at God, or smiling and laughing at the memories you have of such a special person. Sadness, anger, shock, questioning, fear, hope, the joy of remembering, emptiness, worry, heartbreak, trust in our faith - we feel all of this and more. But we also feel all of the prayers and love from every one of you who have reached out to us during this time. Our family, friends, fans and even strangers have brought us so much comfort and we cannot thank you enough. We’ve made a video updating you guys on how we are and wanted to share it with you, along with a video of River we shared at his service. Hold tight to your loved ones, as cliché as that sounds. You truly never know what life is going to throw at you. Love them fiercely, experience this beautiful life together and vow to live like Riv ♥️ Romans 8:28 ✝️ *Link in bio to watch our video
In a heartwrenching post on Instagram, the grieving mother revealed that while she always knew she wanted to be an organ donor herself, making that decision for her son was something completely different. After doctors told her that River had a 0% chance of brain recovery, the couple decided to donate any organs that could be harvested. "I thought, how can we bury our sweet baby and not try to help others? His body is perfect, his organs are perfect, we had to do something. There are so many people waiting for an organ to save their lives," she wrote.
Smith wrote that doctors said "donation was quite a process." in her post. "We would have to search for viable recipients and it could take days. We knew River’s spirit was in Heaven, but we couldn’t bear to watch his tiny, earthly body be pumped full of all the medicines for 3 or more days while they searched. They tried to expedite the process so our family could be in peace, told us they would take him back to operate the next morning, but we wouldn’t know what organs could be used until after."
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I’ve always known I wanted to be a donor if anything were to ever happen to me. I just felt that if I had viable organs, why would I go into the ground with them? My spirit would be in Heaven, so why not save a life if I could? Never in a million years did I think I would be making that decision for my baby. When 3 different neuro specialists told us that River had 0% chance of brain recovery (yes 0, not 10 or 1%, 0) after shock and reality set in, I thought, how can we bury our sweet baby and not try to help others? His body is perfect, his organs are perfect, we had to do something. There are so many people waiting for an organ to save their lives. The doctors said donation was quite a process. We would have to search for viable recipients and it could take days. We knew River’s spirit was in Heaven, but we couldn’t bear to watch his tiny, earthly body be pumped full of all the medicines for 3 or more more days while they searched. They tried to expedite the process so our family could be in peace, told us they would take him back to operate the next morning, but we wouldn’t know what organs could be used until after. With such a small body, organs had to be measured physically, not just by X-ray. I spent the night laying in bed with him, crying and talking to him while they kept running tests and taking blood. The next morning family and staff lined the hall for the “walk of honor”. We told them River liked to go fast, so to honor him, they pushed him down that hall faster than they had ever pushed anyone. Granger and I held each other and cried. We got the letter that our tiny, red-headed hero gave life to 2 adults. A 49 year old woman and a 53 year old man. I cried when we opened it. Cried out of sadness & cried out of love. I’m so proud to be River’s mama and I’m so grateful to God that he gave him to us for those incredible 3 years. I pray these 2 recipients live healthy, joy filled, full throttle lives just like Riv. It was one of the hardest, yet easiest, decisions we’ve ever made. There are over 113,000 people waiting for transplants & 20 people die each day waiting. Go to OrganDonor.gov to see how you can help give life as well. ❤️
Smith went on to write that after spending the night with her son, she and Granger were there as River was pushed down the hospital corridor lined with hospital staff for the "walk of honor."
"We told them River liked to go fast, so to honor him, they pushed him down that hall faster than they had ever pushed anyone," she wrote, explaining that she and Granger followed the gurney, holding each other and crying.
It was then that she wrote that her family received a letter telling her River's organs saved two lives, one of a 49-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man. "I cried when we opened it. Cried out of sadness & cried out of love," she wrote. "I pray these 2 recipients live healthy, joy filled, full throttle lives just like Riv. It was one of the hardest, yet easiest, decisions we’ve ever made."
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I couldn’t sleep last night so I was going through photos of River. I noticed so many with this light around him that I never really took notice of before. We always used to ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He never said a fireman, or police man or doctor. He always said “when I get bigger I reach the light”. I know he probably meant the light switch, but it still makes me smile and still gives me a bit of hope. He’s definitely reaching the light now ✝️. One month. The hardest month of our lives. But we are here. One month closer to seeing him again. ❤️
The family has been open and honest about how their profound loss is affecting them, sharing photos of River on social media and stories of how his short life impacted all those around him.
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We have had such overwhelming help since we lost River. People have been at our house non stop, checking on us, bringing us food, talking with us, praying with us, but for the first time in a month, I was alone for a couple days this past weekend. Granger was on tour and the kids were with family. I decided I needed to just be alone. I needed to just feel all of the emotions. I allowed myself to let out everything I was feeling. I cried. Guttural, animal cries for our son. I’m pretty sure I cried inside and outside every place there was on our property. I so needed it. I talked to God, I talked to River, I read books on Hope and Joy and Grief and Love. I watched movies about Heaven. Cried some more. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but the way Granger and I see it, we can run away from God at this time or we can run to Him. He’s been with us every step of the way, from the first responders and neighbors the night of the accident, to the doctors and nurses hands, to the friends and family by our side, to everything that fell into place so seamlessly for River’s service, to the rainbow He gave us after. He’s been there. So why would we turn on Him now? This life isn’t meant to be perfect. We will face trials and tribulations, loss and heartache, but it’s how we respond to everything thrown at us that matters. Will we retreat and hide from it or will we learn grow from it? I know what I’m choosing. I’m making a conscious choice each and every day to grow from all of this. Does it suck, hell yes. Do I understand? Hell no. Will I have setbacks? Yes. But do I Trust? Yes. I’m committed to loving people and raising kind humans and spreading our love for God, even in the shitty, unfair times. For anyone going through a life changing event in their lives, you are stronger than you think. You can get up. You can fight and find joy, not happiness, happiness is circumstantial. I won’t be “happy” for a while, maybe ever, but I can still have joy in my heart. Joy for my family, my life, and God. And you can too. ❤️
Smith concluded her touching post by writing about the importance of organ donation adding, "there are over 113,000 people waiting for transplants & 20 people die each day waiting. Go to OrganDonor.gov to see how you can help give life as well."