Young Central Texas organ donor’s life was short, legacy endures

Finn Pope died on July 29 in a local hospital after suffering a seizure in his mother’s arms six days earlier. (Photo courtesy of Teri Barnes)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Area residents are rallying around the family of an 11-month-old Waco boy who died of a rare brain aneurysm, but whose donated organs saved the lives of two young children and a woman.

Finn Pope, the only child of Hillsboro natives Taylor and Austin Pope, died on July 29 in a local hospital after suffering a seizure in his mother’s arms on July 23 at the family’s home in Waco.

“He was perfect,” his mom, Taylor said. “Always happy and had never been sick a day in his life.”

“And he is a hero.”

Taylor took Finn to the doctor earlier in the day on July 23 with what she suspected was an ear infection, because the youngster had been tugging at his ears.

A checkup showed nothing out of the ordinary and suggested he might be teething.

Not until he was taken to a hospital after suffering the seizure did a CT scan reveal bleeding on the brain.

Finn was then flown to McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple where he died six days later.

The aneurysm was so rare that doctors described it as “a one in a hundred million chance.”

After his death, Finn became only the second child at McLane Children’s to donate organs this year saving the lives of a girl and boy younger than 1 and a woman in her 40’s.

His remaining organs were donated to research, which could help save millions of other lives.

“The fact that he even survived the initial aneurysm and was alive to donate is very rare in itself,” Taylor said.

“We prayed and prayed for a miracle and we didn’t get the one we wanted, but Finn saved three lives. And that, that’s a miracle.”

Within hours of the loss, an online fundraiser called the Finny Fund was created to help the Popes with medical bills expected to be high after days of critical care in the hospital, as well as expenses associated with the funeral and burial.

Taylor, had just quit her job as a teacher at Indian Spring Middle School in Waco to spend more time with her new son and Austin is an inspector with Arconic in Waco.

In just days, the Finny Fund has raised more than $40,000.

“Through this whole nightmare the amount of love we have felt in the midst of the deepest pain a mother and father can feel has been inspiring,” Taylor said.

“We are so unbelievably touched by the amount of people who have read, shared, prayed, donated, visited, and volunteered.”

Finn's grandmother is a longtime employee of The First National Bank of Central Texas and donations may also be made to The Finn Pope Memorial Fund at any of the bank's five locations, including Hillsboro.

Friends and family members are also organizing a softball tournament that will begin at 10 a.m. on Sept. 7 at Wallace Park in Hillsboro, and they’re asking for teams, volunteers, raffle prizes and concession stand items.

The money raised will also help with expenses as well as go toward starting a foundation to support families in the organ donation process.

The Popes hope to call the foundation “Finn The Hero’s Foundation” because they say their son is just that and believe he deserves all the credit for fighting to live so that others could, too.