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‘Kyle was accidentally killed by his best friend in a gun accident. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with.’

Rebecca Smith

Debbie Merciers is the Market Manager at the Downtown Poplar Bluff Famer’s Market. She spoke with the Missouri on Mic team in Poplar Bluff in July.

She spoke about losing her son, Kyle, in a gun accident several years ago.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Debbie Merciers: I lost my son two years ago, and the last Saturday before I lost him. He was selling sweet corn, and one of our favorite customers comes down all the time, and she had a watermelon and she – actually my son was selling watermelons and sweet corn.

Rebecca Smith: Mhmm.

Debbie Merciers: – and her daughter had dropped a watermelon, and we, you know, we took it back and gave her another one. And so my son and my daughter got into a watermelon fight right here in the parking lot. Those memories. Just, you know, took me a while to come back to me about six weeks before I could come back, but this is the place, this is the last place I saw my son. Well, sorry, I saw him the next day too. But the memories of that watermelon fight and the memories here of that summer – him being here with us is my most precious memory.

Rebecca Smith: Do you want to tell me about him? I mean, not the loss of them, but just tell me about him?

"My son was an organ donor and he's saved five lives."
Debbie Merciers

Debbie Merciers: Yeah, so my husband and I have three children. And I have Shelby, she's 26 now. I have Jack, he is 23. Shelby is in school to be a nurse and my son Jack lives in Springfield with his girlfriend, Kassidy, who just graduated nursing school, and then I had Kyle, and Kyle was 20 and he had his girlfriend, Taylor.

Kyle was accidentally killed by his best friend in a gun accident. That gun accidentally went off and his best friend accidentally shot him in, and it – it was very surreal. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with.

But my son was an organ donor and he's saved five lives, and one of the – we've heard from the gentleman who got his heart, but we haven't, we wrote a letter back, but we haven't got to really meet him.

But we got to meet the gentleman who got his lungs. We met him in April, and he'd been searching diligently for us, and he found us, and it's just been – we met him and it's just, it's bittersweet. It's an instant bond.

He recently hiked to a mountain in Utah, and he gave all the credit to my son's young, healthy lung because when he got his – my son's lungs, he only had 8% of lung function, and –

My son's name was Kyle. He was the life of any room. He was so charismatic. He didn't know a stranger. That's why he did so good selling the produce because everyone would come up to him because he had stories to tell, and he was the shining light in our family. He was more than a little ornery, but he was amazing. He was amazing.

Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.