NAPLES — Tasha Lewis had little time to comprehend the idea that she was about to meet the boy she saved.

After nearly seven years without contact, Lewis reached out on Facebook that she was looking for the family of a boy, just over 7 years old, given life-saving organs from Lewis’ deceased daughter, Pandora.

Ten hours later, she met Levi Goff for the first time.

“I was ecstatic, sad, happy and elated at the same time. It was surreal,” Lewis said. 

The events that led to Pandora’s death still cause Lewis to look down and speak slowly, as  though reciting something someone has told her that she doesn’t quite understand. 

On March 3, 2008, Lewis went to buy her daughter formula. She was anxious to leave her daughter, having had nightmares during her pregnancy that she was going to give birth to a stillborn child. The fear lingered, though eventually she left the girl with Pandora’s father, Mika Mitchell, at home.

Lewis said she knew something was wrong when she returned; Mitchell confided Pandora was having trouble breathing, and she found the 5-week-old baby upstairs in her crib, tongue swollen and gasping for air. Pandora was taken to a local hospital in Skowhegan, and eventually sent by LifeFlight to Bangor.

Three days later, Pandora’s brain showed no activity and life support was removed. An autopsy later showed the baby had a black eye and bruising on her cheeks, buttocks and forehead that resembled fingers.

In 2008, Mitchell was ordered to spend 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the death of his baby daughter.

A day before life support was removed, Lewis was approached about donating her daughter’s organs. At first, it was the furthest thing from her mind.

When Pandora died a day later, it took Lewis about five minutes to decide it was the right thing to do.

“No matter what I chose to do, she was going to die. In my mind, I couldn’t justify (not donating), knowing I could save another family from going through what I was going through if I could help it.”

More than a year after the transplant, Laurie Goff, Levi’s mother, reached out to Lewis, telling her about their healthy son. Although Lewis was happy their son was alive, she couldn’t find the words then, and wouldn’t find the words to talk about what had happened for six-and-a-half more years. 

“I didn’t know what to say back,” Lewis said. “I must have written a hundred letters, and all of them went into the trash.”

Three days ago, the desire to know about Levi rekindled. At most, she hoped to talk over Facebook.

Instead, as the Goffs, who are from Kentucky, were traveling through Lewiston on vacation with their four boys, they met for the first time on Monday.

When they met, Lewis’ sons played with the Goffs’. The parents watched, silent for a time.

“I was so happy,” Lewis said. “The whole reason I donated her organs was to prevent another child from dying.”

The two families caught up over two hours, sharing memories and thanks.

“It was more than I ever expected or hoped for. It brings a little closure,” Lewis said.

A message to Laurie Goff was not returned Wednesday afternoon.

At first, Lewis didn’t like the name Pandora — she preferred Autumn — but by the time her daughter was born, the name stuck.

Pandora was Levi’s last hope for life.

“I’ve always known I made the right decision and I’ve never once regretted it or thought I shouldn’t have done that. Seeing him sank it home for me.”

According to the Somerset, Ky., Commonwealth Journal, Levi was born with malrotation and needed life-saving organ transplants. Today, he lives with Pandora’s pancreas, liver and small bowel.

“It let me know her life wasn’t meaningless,” Lewis said. “It was extremely short, but it had purpose.”

Lewis lives in Naples with her partner and their two boys, Izak, 4, and Jace, 5½ months. She would like to have another daughter someday.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: