Justin Wilson lives on through five people. His family doesn’t know who they are or where they are or what their conditions are, but knowing his life may have saved or helped others is everything to them. Giving selflessly is what and who he was, and his final gesture proved it.
Wilson was a registered organ donor. After Wilson was declared brain dead after suffering a traumatic head injury when he was struck by a piece from another car during a race in August at Pocono Raceway, plans were underway to preserve and transfer five of his organs to patients on waiting lists.
Wilson’s wife, Julia, knew he was an organ donor. Wilson’s younger brother, Stefan, didn’t.
“When I think back to that day, there’s so much heartache, but that is the one positive,” Stefan Wilson told USA TODAY Sports. “I thought, ‘Wow, Justin was able to have such an impact.’ He’d already had this amazing racing career and amazing life and amazing family. It just made me so proud of what he was able to do. It really encapsulated who he was as a person. He was always so thoughtful about others and considerate of others. He was just a great guy.”
Stefan Wilson wasn’t an organ donor when his brother died, but he is now. He’s also an important spokesman in the drive to register people as organ donors. In the 26-year-old’s first Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, his No. 25 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet will start 30th and carry the logo of the Indiana Donor Network, which helps coordinate and promote organ, eye and tissue donation in the state.
“This carries on Justin’s legacy,” Wilson said. “When you think that there are five people walking around today because of what Justin decided to do, it’s remarkable. In the weeks and months following the accident, so many people reached out to me and told me that they became an organ donor because of what Justin did. Or they told me that they have loved ones who are here because (of) someone else’s gift of life. It hit me that this could go way beyond five lives.”