Doug Robinson: Gifts of life bring joy to 2 families

Deseret News | Doug Robinson

Bruce Bracken meets Eric Schreiber for the first time — three days after Bracken had donated one of his kidneys to save Schreiber's life. "I guess we're brothers now," Schreiber told Bracken. Bracken family photo

Recently, the Deseret News published two profiles about Utahns who were hoping to be on the giving and receiving ends of unrelated life-saving organ transplant procedures. One was an infant who, with time running out, was on a long waiting list to receive a liver; the other was a Draper man who had volunteered to donate his kidney to a perfect stranger in Denver who also was running out of time. This is what happened next ….

On June 7, we told you the story of Beckett Stinson, a 10-month-old baby who desperately needed a liver transplant. He had been waiting for months for a donor who was a match — same blood type, same size. Things were looking pretty grim. In what was nearly an 11th-hour save, an organ that met his needs was found. Six days after the story appeared, Beckett received the transplanted liver at Primary Children’s Hospital. The prognosis is good. His beleaguered, weary-worn parents are relieved and grateful.

On June 14, we told you the story of Bruce Bracken, a 65-year-old Draper man who had volunteered to donate one of his kidneys to a man who had been waiting for a transplant since 2009. The dual surgeries were performed on June 23. In a 13-hour procedure, Eric Schreiber received Bracken’s kidney. Both patients are doing well, and Bracken’s kidney is functioning well inside its new owner. It wasn’t until after the surgery that Bracken finally met Schreiber for the first time.

These stories don’t always have such happy endings, of course, often because there is a shortage of donor organs. After the story about baby Beckett appeared in the newspaper, I received emails from several readers about organ donation. One was a heartbreaking note from a California woman named Nikki Rances. Her son Dillon had been diagnosed with biliary atresia at 2 months, same as Beckett. Dillon died eight months ago.

“He was on the very top of the transplant list but he was just too sick,” wrote Rances. “Our little boy was such a fighter, but his body was just too tired. We watched the numbers go down … the heartbeats start to dwindle and his oxygen levels go lower and lower. Grief is a horrible thing.” Continue reading