Stephen Elrod – Donor

For there to be life, there must be death.  Stephen had faith and believed Jesus died on the cross in order to give him and others eternal life.  Not many twenty-four year old young adults think about dying, much less about donating their organs.  But Stephen Elrod was a unique young individual.  One day he made a special trip on his lunch hour into Circuit Clerk Mike Redden’s office to add his name to the KY Organ Donor Registry.  Stephen explained that he had been saved and had a personal relationship with Jesus, and if anything were to happen to him he wanted someone to benefit from his death.  He must have had a premonition about his future.  Six short months later, on his way to work, July 21, 2009, he lost his life in an accident.

Because of Stephen’s decision to help others at his death, the following individuals had an opportunity to continue their lives.

Stephen’s liver recipient was a 60 year old man from Ohio.  He suffered from a chronic progressive disease which caused acute liver failure.  He was second on the waiting list and was extremely ill at the time of his transplant.  Stephen saved his life.  When he is feeling well enough, he works at Goodyear Tire.  He is the married father of two children.  In his free time, he especially enjoys outdoor activities.  He is currently doing well and is working on regaining his full strength from home.

Stephen’s left kidney went to a 17 year old girl from Ohio. She had a genetic disorder of unknown origin that slowly caused her kidneys to shut down.  She had been receiving frequent dialysis treatments for two years before her transplant.  Her family consists of eight siblings, and she is very fond of puppets. Sponge Bob and watching TV.  After her surgery, she experienced no complications and she is currently doing excellent.

The recipient of Stephen’s right kidney was a 17 year old boy from Kentucky.  He had the same genetic condition as the girl who received his left kidney.  Stephen relieved this young man of over four years of dialysis treatments.  He had waited for this gift for one and a half years.  He has two siblings and his favorite thing to do is participate on his school’s wrestling team.

Stephen’s aortic valves were sent to a hospital in Georgia and his pulmonary valves were sent to a hospital in Virginia.   Stephen would be thrilled to know that his heart valves went to Georgia where he spent so many years.  They possibly could have benefited someone that he shared the soccer fields or basketball court with over the years.

Due to injuries sustained in the accident, he was unable to donate his pancreas and skin.

Thirteen months after his accident, we received a letter from Stephen’s liver recipient.  While reading the letter, strange emotions came over me.  Although it was so sad knowing that Stephen was no longer physically with us, a part of him was still living and thriving in this 60-year old man.  Part of Stephen’s body was still living.  What an encouragement and a blessing that was, and still is even today.  In this letter, the gentleman wrote that because of Stephen’s sacrifice, he has felt a change in his life and it has enabled him to enjoy all life has to offer.  He feels an obligation to cherish every day and is grateful for the renewed energy he feels.  He said he will be eternally grateful to Stephen for making that trip to the Circuit Clerk’s office that day and becoming a life donor.

 (Story shared by Stephen’s family – Rick, Judy and Jon Elrod.)