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Heather-Recipient’s Wife

Chase, Julie (Wyatt’s Mom), and Grant (Julie’s Husband)

It is very hard to put my husband’s transplant journey into words. We were so very fortunate to be surprised with the “Gift of Life” from one of my husband’s former baseball coaches, Jake Yonkers, on February 28th 2020. The surprise was shared very publicly on the news (WHAS11) and picked up by GMA and Chase and Jake were interviewed on ESPN, the story even went viral on social media. Sadly, the world was shut down two weeks before my husband’s transplant surgery, which was scheduled on March 24th 2020, due to Covid19. Although my husband’s surgery was necessary, our donor’s surgery was considered elective. They could not put him at risk for covid19. They reassured us that even though this surgery was canceled, my husband was still on the transplant list.

As my husband’s condition deteriorated, we were losing hope. On April 8th 2020 at 3:45 a.m. we received the call that changed our lives, Chase had a kidney match from the donor list and needed to make our way to the hospital.

Jake (Surprise donor), Debi (tested to donate), Chase, Julie, and Grant

There will never be words to truly express how much our donors and their families mean to us. We experienced both sides of organ donation (living and deceased), and the only word to describe them is HERO! With their knowledge of organ donation they were able to leave a legacy for themselves for many years to come. Jake and Wyatt, you are so loved and respected, and will be honored by our family and many others for the rest of time.

Drew (Heather and Chase’s Son) who dedicated his football season to Wyatt’s mom, Julie.

My husband was given hope and a little bit of excitement by the media, by our first organ donor, Jake, who was able to push him through his sickest moments as he waited for his second donor, Wyatt, who gave Chase and our family life. My husband will now see his three kids grow, be able to walk his daughter down the aisle, continue on with his superhero movie obsession with the boys and will be there for all the countless moments a family would need a father and husband for. All because of people’s selfless acts and knowing how important it is to donate life.