HEART OF A TIGER: Local family who tragically lost son shares the importance of organ donation

Sports

(10/28/2019) — “Growing up, I hated Auburn. But, the games were so great, ” says John Perry.

Despite the dislike for one of LSU’s bitter rivals, John Perry is willing to let bygones be bygones. Before the annual clash of the Tigers, Perry and his family not only reflect on the nail biters over the years – but their son, who isn’t here to watch this rivalry with them.

“[We] took our son for a normal check-up, ” remembers Perry.

“I remember the nurses, they kept saying ‘We’ve got a really sick baby in here,'” says Holley Perry, mother of John Clarke Perry. “And, I kept thinking, ‘Why are they calling him a sick baby?’ He’s just got a little bug.”

As hours continued to pass, the situation worsened.

“Couple of days later, he started having some symptoms, ” says John Perry. “By the time we got him to the hospital, then they realized he had an abnormal muscle malformation in his brain.”

Young John Clarke Perry underwent two surgeries. But, to no avail.

“After his second surgery, [it] was Thanksgiving Day, ” Holley Perry remembers. “Had a really good day. And, then after Thanksgiving Day was whenever we knew he had that brain bleed again.”

Holley Perry’s intuition soon kicked in.

“I knew Thanksgiving night, going to bed, when I call to check his lab work, the nurse told me. And, I remember crying on the phone with her and asking her, ‘Will you please pray with him tonight?'” “I knew when we got that call at 5 a.m., [the doctor] needed to talk to us. [I] knew exactly what was going on.”

On November 29, 2015 John Clarke Perry passed away. The family was alerted their son’s heart was being sent to revive six-month old Davis Boswell in Alabama.

“Three days after my son had passed away, someone reached out to my wife on Facebook and said, ‘I know this is strange. But, I think I know who got your son’s heart, ‘” says John Perry.

“‘I’ve been following this story, I’ve been following your story, says Holley Perry. “She was like, ‘Within hours of the prayer vigil [for John Clarke Perry], Davis [Boswell] received a heart.”

In 2016, the Perry’s formally met the Auburn Tiger-loving Boswell family.

“You can’t deny God in this whole story, ” says Holley Perry. “Davis came to us. We saw him in April and didn’t see him for another six months. And, the second time we saw him we went out to eat. [Davis] was at the opposite end of the table, he was reaching for us.”

Later that year, while visiting their son’s gravesite, John received a message he’ll never forget.

“My phone goes off. It’s an e-mail from ESPN saying, ‘We want to do the Heart of a Tiger piece.’ [ESPN] read the story and absolutely wanted to do it.”

Since then, his story has been shared countless times. Every year, the Perry’s and Boswell’s gather for the Auburn-LSU game. The family created the John Clarke Perry Foundation to raise awareness for organ donation, and to keep the legacy of their son alive.

“That last LSU game, there was a horrible car wreck, unfortunately the night before the game. And, a little girl passed away, ” says John Perry. “The mom reached out to us and said, ‘Because of your story I donated my daughter’s organs.'”

“If you can give anything at all to anybody, so they can spend more time with their family. I would say absolutely, do it without a heartbeat, ” says Holley Perry.

For more information on the John Clarke Perry Foundation. And, how to help other families in need, visit www.JohnClarkePerryFoundation.com

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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