Stories about: organ donation

A life taken. A life given. A life shared.

Kaitlyn, donor, and Hannah, recipient
Kaitlyn and Hannah

When she read the article in the Cape Cod Times about the 11-year-old girl who underwent a life-saving liver transplant, Melissa Dunphe knew.

“Too many pieces fit for it not to be.”

She knew that the child, who was at the same hospital on the same floor on the same day, had to be the one who received her five-year-old daughter Kaitlyn’s liver.

Five years earlier, at eight months old, Kaitlyn was in a car accident that left her without the use of her limbs and unable to breathe on her own.

During her short life, her parents made moments matter.

“She was a very happy child,” her mom Melissa says. “She loved life — going for walks, having her nails painted and going to the beach. “We knew she wouldn’t live long, but I never expected it to be so soon.”

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My blue-eyed boy: The decision to donate life

Aidan the chefHot, humid air arrived that last week in June 2014. Our family was looking forward to a summer of entertaining, barbecuing and sharing our newly built patio with friends. Spending time as a family hiking, traveling or just hanging out at home was important to us. Aidan was ready to head off to a three-day goalie lacrosse camp. It was something he had begged to do all winter long.

Aidan loved life and he lived it with passion. Aidan or AJ, depending on who you asked, had his future completely planned. He played basketball, swam and skied. As a Boy Scout, he had spent many days camping and hiking throughout New England and he worked each day delivering the local paper on his bike. In the winter, he loved to create huge, elaborate snow forts. On vacations, he and his two siblings were thrill-ride junkies. He loved to draw and doodle.

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Kidney donation runs in the family


Who’s who? Hover over the icons to find out.

In addition to being relatives, Susie Percy, her brother Paul Bears, Jr., her father Paul Bears, Sr. and his brother-in-law Bill Cashell all have one thing in common — they each have one kidney.

“Kidney donation is a family affair,” says Susie.

Thirty-four years ago, Bill Cashell gave a kidney to his son Sean, who was born with a rare genetic condition called Alport syndrome. Eleven years later, when Sean needed a new kidney, his Uncle Paul, Sr. stepped forward. And nine years after that, when Sean was experiencing rejection, Paul Jr. offered to donate to his cousin.

Fast forward 14 years.

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The magical power of organ donation

KevinJulian

He loved magic. He loved physics, technology and the solar system too, but it was magic that made his dorky side seem cool. While his friends attempted to act suave with the ladies, 31-year-old Kevin Sullivan didn’t have to try. He had his own charm — magic tricks. He dazzled his nieces and nephews and his large circle of friends, says his sister Katie Sullivan.

Magic was part of his magnetic personality.

One evening, while out with a friend, Kevin began performing magic tricks using picture IDs. He noticed a heart on his friend’s driver’s license and asked what it meant. What followed was a 30-minute conversation about organ donation, which ended with Kevin announcing, “Well of course I’d be an organ donor. I’m awesome! My organs are awesome!”

That was last summer.

A few months later, Kevin lay in a bed in the Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. He had suffered severe brain damage following an accident at work. It was clear he would not recover.

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