Six years after a young man's death, others are alive because of a decision we're all given a chance to make.
Shad Boaz of Paducah died after a car accident in 2008. He was 20-years-old. Despite the pain his death brought to his friends and family, there are some positives that have come out of the grief.
Boaz had signed up to be a organ donor, and his organs helped seven people, including Don Baskin. Baskin, who is from the Nashville area, suffered from a rare lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. When doctors told him he had IPF, they said he had five years to live, unless he got a double lung transplant.
Fast forward nearly 5 years to the summer of 2008, and that's when you get the intersection of one family's agony and another family's relief and joy. it also started the slow process of bringing those two families together with a unique bond.
After Baskin's transplant surgery, the hospital asked if he wanted to send a note to the donor's family, which he did. But Baskin didn't know who the family was, it would be up to Shad's parents to respond if they wanted to.
"We sent a letter but didn't hear anything, which is totally understandable," said Baskin. "About two and a half years after that we got a message from the transplant team at Vanderbilt saying your donor family wants to meet you."
"It took that long for us to be able to discuss it without being overwhelmed with grief of the situation," said Shad's father, Dan Boaz.
First it was phone calls, then on May 1st of 2012, they finally met in person.
"It did our hearts good knowing Shad lives on with somebody like that,' said Boaz.
"It was a selfless act of kindness on his part to sign that donor card," said Baskin. "Had he not signed that donor card, I can't speak for God, but I'm not sure I would be here."
A few weeks ago, the Boaz family invited Baskin to come to Paducah for the 6th annual Shad Boaz memorial golf tournament at Rolling Hills Golf Club. Money raised from the tournament provides scholarships each year for a St. Mary High School student who will then go on to Murray State, just like Shad.
There are 122,000 people nationwide on the organ transplant waiting list. The easiest way for you to become an organ donor is to sign up when you get your driver's license renewed. For more information on how to become a donor, click here.
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