A story of survival

| November 3, 2011

By TALIA
Guest Writer

Liver transplant recipient Mark Kelly with his parents, Kyleen and Baxter Kelly.

Liver transplant recipient Mark Kelly with his parents, Kyleen and Baxter Kelly.

The other day, I had a meeting with a very nice lady named Kyleen Kelly. She is an expert on organ donation because she volunteers at A Second Chance at Life, a branch of Donate Life Kentucky. She told my mom and me her amazing story about her son, Mark Kelly.

Mark was diagnosed with liver disease at the age of 5. At age 48, he is still alive thanks to an organ donation.

Mark is not Kyleen’s biological son. His real mom died of leukemia when Mark was 10 years old. When Mark was 13, Kyleen married Mark’s dad, Baxter Kelly. Ever since then, Kyleen and Mark only refer to each other as mom and son because, ”If you love someone, you love them, and you don’t have to give birth to someone to claim them as your child,” Kyleen said.

After many years of taking medication, Mark was hospitalized at age 37 because he really needed a transplant. On May 18, while waiting in the ICU at Jewish Hospital it looked like he wouldn’t be able to get an organ in time.

The chaplain at the hospital told Kyleen and her husband to prepare for a funeral. He told them that Mark wasn’t going to be able to live for another 24 hours. That afternoon, they started to plan the funeral.

After being at the hospital all day, they finally left at 9:30 that night. The minute they got home, the phone rang. It was Jewish Hospital. They told the Kellys that there was an organ available for Mark. Kyleen said, “That’s the power of prayer, and it’s priceless!”

Liver donor Macon Giles.

Liver donor Macon Giles.

The Kelly family is so grateful that their son was saved that every month and every holiday for two-and-a-half years after his transplant, Kyleen sent a letter to the donor family thanking them and letting them know  Mark’s progress. On Mark’s 40th birthday Kyleen sent a letter that said, “Mark’s turning 40, and it would be a great birthday present for him to meet you and your family.”

A couple of days later, they received a call from the donor family agreeing to meet. Soon after, the families united. “It involved a lot of crying,” said Kyleen. They started to exchange stories. The donor family told the Kellys that their son, Macon Giles, died when he was 22.

Macon and Mark had many similarities. They were the same weight, height, both drove pickup trucks and both loved country music. Both families keep in contact on a weekly basis to this day. It is very sad that Macon died, but it was a true mitzvah, or ultimate deed, that he saved Mark’s life.

Thank you, Kyleen, for sharing, and thank all of you for reading! And remember, if you aren’t already an organ donor, you can sign up to be one at www.donatelifeky.org.

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Category: Talia’s Love 4 Life Project

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