Lee Dingle, 37, died on July 18 of a head injury caused by a wave that slammed him into the sand at a beach on Oak Island, N.C. Dingle had been playing in the water with three of his six children at the time.
Dingle’s death prompted a flood of sympathy from his community, where he was well-known for adopting four of his six children, including a young girl with cerebral palsy from Taiwan.
People have donated more than US$283,000 to Dingle’s surviving family through a GoFundMe campaign set up by a friend.
“If you didn’t know him, I’m sorry. You missed out,” Dingle’s wife, Shannon, wrote in a blog post about him following his death.
Dingle’s parents say all of his organs have since been donated to 55 people in need of transplants. They informed local news station WSOCTV of the donation in a brief message last week.
Tom Caldwell, who was Dingle’s boss at Atlas Engineering, said he’s not surprised by the man’s final act of selflessness.
“He was always thinking of other people,” Caldwell told CNN. “It’s just like him. God bless him, I don’t doubt that at all — it’s just right in line with his life.”
Dingle’s wife says she’s grateful that his organs will be able to help others. She says it was a straightforward decision to sign off on the donations, but it was still an extremely difficult process.
“Your loved ones need to know if it matters to you,” she tweeted.
Shannon added that the donations come as little comfort as she and her six children try to put their lives back together.
“Please never use this to try to paint a silver lining around our deep grief,” she tweeted.