Anne N. Bates

Erik Matthew Potyrala
January 5, 1982 – January 27, 2008

Erik was the fourth child born to our family.  He had older brothers; Michael, Jason and a sister Amanda.  Since he was my baby he always held a special place in my heart.  Even as a toddler he loved to make funny faces and make everyone laugh.  He was a great impersonator and had the ability to bring a smile to your face even when you were not having a good day.  He was a loving son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend.

Erik was an avid sports fan.  He played Little League and Intermediate Baseball and won the “Pitcher of the Year Award” in his last year in the league.  The Yankees, Giants, Knicks and Notre Dame were his favorite teams.  He loved going to Yankee Stadium with his brother Mike.  He was able to go to his first NY Giants game this fall.  He was so excited when they made it to the Super Bowl.  Unfortunately he died the week before the big game but I am sure he was cheering them to victory.  All of us feel he was in some way responsible for their win.  Erik loved music and would enjoy playing it for his grandfather.  He would always sing along and he knew all the words to the songs.  He was very artistic and could look at a picture and be able to draw it perfectly.

Family was most important to Erik.  He never hesitated to tell us how much he loved us.  He always gave us big bear hugs.  He was 6’5” tall so when you stood by him you felt rather small, especially his sister who was only 5’2”.

When we were first contacted by your organization the morning following our son’s sudden death we were totally unprepared to make any decision regarding organ donation.  We never expected to have to be put in a position regarding organ donation especially for one of our children who was healthy and full of life.  Our willingness to donate his corneas and tissue was difficult because things happened so unexpectedly.  As the months have gone by we know that we made the right decision and will encourage others to become tissue donors.

Erik would have been very happy with our decision knowing that his corneas gave sight to two people and helped relieve their pain.  It was very overwhelming to know that his donated tissue would help as many as 50 recipients.

Losing our son at such a young age was the worst thing we ever experienced.  No parent should have to bury their child.  It has been 9 months since our son died and the pain and emptiness we felt then has not diminished.  Our brave decision to donate his corneas and tissue to help others has provided us with some solace in knowing that our son lives on.  We know he is happy with our decision.

Erik was a wonderful young man who brought laughter and smiles into the lives of everyone he knew.  His kindness and sensitivity was admired by everyone.  He had so much more to give and so much more to live for.  Unfortunately it was not meant to be.

The outpouring of sympathy and compassion we have received from the Lions Eye Bank and the Center for Donation and Transplant as well as family and friends has meant so much to our family during this most tragic time in our lives.

We know that Erik is looking down at us from heaven with a big smile on his handsome face and his blue eyes sparkling saying….“I’m proud of you Mom and Dad, Good Job!!”  We hope some day to be able to meet those individuals who received my son’s corneas.

We will love and miss you forever Erik.


Submitted by Michael & Sandy Potyrala and Family