Volunteer Spotlight: Sixteen-year-old Evan Cotton and his new heart provide comfort

Evan Cotton

The days were long for high-schooler Evan Cotton as he waited in the hospital a year ago for his life to be saved with the gift of a new heart. Then as he healed, Evan waited some more.

“Sometimes I couldn’t leave my floor or even my room,” said the sophomore at Farwell High School, north of Mount Pleasant.

Evan Cotton in the hospitalThank goodness for the kindness of people who sent him Legos and a soft, comforting fleece blanket for his stay at University of Michigan Health, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Evan was born with a condition that prevents normal blood flow through the heart. As his health worsened over time, doctors said only a transplant would save his life.

A year later, the now energetic Evan has big plans to do what he can in return. First up: A multi-part event on April 13 called Evan Cotton’s Operation Giveback.

He’s collecting toys for pediatric patients at Mott and hosting a public blanket-making event in Clare. The blankets will go to grieving donor families, which will fill an important and growing need statewide.

Don’t underestimate the impact of a soft fleece blanket.

“I still have the cat blanket someone gave me,” Evan said. “It was with me the whole time.”

Just like his new heart. He’s grateful for that, too.

“He’s been given a miracle,” said Evan’s mom, Kelly. “I hope as Evan grows older, he continues his connection to Gift of Life and keeps helping where help is needed. We’re all so grateful.”

Evan’s dad, Eric, tells how Evan walked the hospital halls for his post-surgery therapy, stopping in young patients’ rooms to share gift cards he’d been given.

“A lot of people gave me things when I needed them,” Evan said. Planning the big event is keeping him busy filling the needs of others. “I’m excited about this.”

Cathy Warren of the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan
Cathy Warren

“I’m so impressed with the compassion such a young man has,” said Cathy Warren, program director at the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan and a member of the Michigan Donor Family Council. Both groups support organ donation awareness and donor families.
“Evan’s going big,” she said. “It’s really heartwarming.”

To create comfort blankets for donor families or plan an event, contact Patty Jo Herndon at [email protected] or Gift of Life Michigan at [email protected].

Read more in the LifeLINES newsletter

Read More Posts
Angel wings mural in downtown Bay City in support of Gift of Life Michigan

Raising the wings of awareness

For years Brad Gohr watched as his mother, Charmaine Neymeiyer, battled Autoimmune Hepatitis, a disease…

Read More
Dorrie Dils is president and CEO of Gift of Life Michigan

AOPO Names 2024-2025 President and Board of Directors

OPO Leaders Elected to Champion Organ Donation Mission Today, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations…

Read More
Guests enjoyed free Dippin' Dots ice cream at Donate Life Night at the Zoo

Donate Life Night at John Ball Zoo honors those impacted by organ and tissue donation

Registration still open to this free event Gift of Life Michigan’s largest West Michigan event…

Read More
Donor families in the March of Honor at the 2024 Check Your Heart Capitol Rally

Check Your Heart Rally in Lansing focuses on educating the next generation

Hundreds gather in support of organ, eye and tissue donation   More than 400 people from…

Read More
sunset colors and a cross

Can Catholics Donate Organs?

The tenets of the Catholic faith are something many adhere to. But at times, these…

Read More
Group of patients waiting for organ transplants carrying a banner reading "Waiting to Live" along the Capitol sidewalk

Check Your Heart Rally at State Capitol encourages next generation to donate life

Hundreds expected in support of organ, eye and tissue donation on June 12 Hundreds of…

Read More
Scroll to Top