All signs point to…

I’ve had that little red heart on my license since I was 16. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

license

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.

GR0407Donate Life1
Laurie Beard,  receives a hug from Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (Emily Zoladz | The Grand Rapids Press)

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.

kristin and conrad
Dave Conrad from B-93 and his kidney donor Kristin. Courtesy: Dave’s FB page

#ItsaGodthing

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!

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6 thoughts on “All signs point to…

  1. Thinking of you all today! What a great story and so happy to see it on the news. I hope it does bring more living donors. I finally got to meet Cheryl with Terry last weekend, I know they are both so grateful. I’m am so happy for your family. I donated 13 months ago to my husband. We are both doing great. God bless you! Or as Terry said – you are an angel!

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      1. Yes! Glad you are all doing well. Welcome to the club! Just remember to walk, walk, walk these first few weeks. Best gift I could ever give my husband. (I think I get a bye on gift giving for a few years?!)

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  2. Abbey- not sure if you remember me from Pine Rest but I am also a kidney donor via Saint Mary’s. I donated almost 5 years ago anonymously here and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I have no regrets and would love to connect with you sometime. Praying for you and your mother-in-law during your recovery.

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    1. Hi Tonya!
      Yes, I remember you. Thanks so much for reaching out. I would also like to get together when I am recovered. I should be back to work the second week of August. 🙂 Here is my work email which will be the best way to get in touch at that time. abbeysladick@meltrotter.org

      I hope you are well! Thank you very much for the prayers.

      Hugs.

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