Choosing Life Even in the Darkest Hour

In Your Darkest Hour, You Can Make a Choice to Give Life Alicia and Michael Stillman had to make that choice when faced with losing their Emily


West Bloomfield, MI -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/22/2013 --“My Emily has been through too much, don’t let The Gift of Life people come talk to me, the answer is NO.” Alicia Stillman said these words on Saturday, February 2, 2013 as she sat next to her lifeless 19-year-old daughter Emily.

Emily, a Kalamazoo College sophomore, had been rushed to the hospital complaining of a severe and unbearable headache. Like many parents, Alicia and Michael Stillman of West Bloomfield, had sent their daughter off to college ready to learn. As parents they had vaccinated all three of their children against harmful diseases, including meningitis. Days later, no one could have imagined she would pass away having contracted bacterial meningitis. No one knows how Emily contracted the illness and thankfully no one around her displayed symptoms. The strain contracted by Emily is not covered in the U.S. vaccination and is only covered in Europe.

As the Stillman family began their goodbyes to Emily, Alicia felt a shiver up her back and quickly realized she had made a horrible mistake. She called in The Gift of Life organization representatives into the room to explain what needed to happen in order for them to choose to donate Emily’s organs. Alicia feels spiritually this was Emily giving her a message that day to help others. Emily was a sassy, funny full of life, compassionate daughter, sister and friend who was the first to help anyone and especially the underdog.

Six months has passed in the Stillman family. While Alicia and Michael have realized life around them has gotten back to normal nothing about their world will ever be the same. The family has been in the process of establishing a fund in Emily’s name to provide support for meningitis research. “The vaccination should be available to anyone who needs it not just who can afford it and research has got to be sped along in this country,” said Alicia Stillman. “If we can help raise awareness then hopefully no families will endure this pain.” Alicia Stillman has just received training with the National Meningitis Association to speak out on how to get your children, teens and adults vaccinated. A mission she now feels is her purpose.

In addition to arming themselves with bacterial meningitis knowledge, Alicia and Michael have found a second calling to speak. That day when faced in their darkest hour Michael and Alicia gave the gift of life and now want to make others aware of how precious that message is and how that choice will change many people’s lives.

Wednesday, September 18 from 11:00a.m. - 2:00p.m. at the State Capitol in Lansing, The Stillman family will have the chance along side of hundreds of transplant recipients, donor family members and patients to celebrate the miracle of donation and transplant at the DONATE LIFE CAPITOL CELEBRATION. One of the very special people standing next to the Stillman family celebrating life will be Randy Schumacher of Ubly, Michigan who received Emily’s kidney.

The Stillman family has authorized The Gift of Life organization to let all those who received Emily’s organs they are interested in talking with them. Both parties must agree to this exchange. At this time Alicia and Michael have heard from Schumacher and for the first time will meet him on September 18th. Emily’s heart is beating with a gentleman in Ohio who will be unable to attend the event. The Stillman family has extended an invitation to meet the heart recipient this summer and plans are underway. Gift of Life has now reached out to all the donor recipients to meet the Stillman family in Lansing on September 18th. A special room at the Capitol has been designated for this meeting before the event.

The Stillman family, once a very private family now feels they must step forward and speak out on Gift of Life and bacterial meningitis.

Donate Life Capitol Celebration will take place Wednesday, September 18th 11a.m. to2:00p.m. on the State capitol steps in Lansing. For more information or contact Kim Zasa, Volunteer Coordinator and Secretary of State branch liaison 734-922-1042

To provide support for meningitis research donations can be sent to The Emily Stillman fund at Temple Shir Shalom, 3999 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield MI 48232 or by calling 248-737-8700.

For more information regarding meningitis contact the National Meningitis Association at or 866.366.3662