I’ve had that little red heart on my license since I was 16. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I covered a few transplant “human interest” stories while I was a reporter at FOX 17. They were some of the most memorable stories for me — they didn’t win awards and they weren’t in the “top story” slot in the rundown — but I was a witness to a true form of human courage and kindness, which has now become an important part of my personal story.
In April 2010 I was assigned to a press conference (not the typical thrill for a 20-something reporter trying to make her mark in a big city.) Laurie Beard of then Founder’s Bank was promoting the Michigan donor registry. Her son Paul became a donor of several organs after a tragic car accident took his life. I was inspired by her courage to talk about such a painful experience in order to promote a life-saving program for others.
At the same press conference was Conrad — radio DJ from B-93. He had been on the recipient waiting list for some time after a motorcycle accident triggered a polycystic kidney disease. Almost a year later, I heard on the radio that Conrad had found a kidney donor… and it was one of his faithful listeners–a stranger. I HAD to cover this story. At first, I was excited to have an exclusive enterprise story for that day… then I met Kristin O’Leary, his donor. I think she was 19 years old at the time? It had been about a week since her surgery, so she was moving a bit slow, but her smile was infectious, and she had a calm strength about her, even at a young age. She talked to me about the surgery process and made it seem so doable. I left Kristin’s house thinking about how amazing it was to see a young adult be so selfless for a stranger. Her faith was apparent, but she was humble. She was truly being Jesus.
Back then, my hope was that these stories would encourage others to become organ donors… but God had even more in mind for me. He was preparing me for a story of my own… of becoming a living organ donor. Thank you Laurie, Paul, Dave and Kristin for being heroes and taking away the fear of organ donation for me!