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April is National Organ Donor Month; Rexburg family finds hope after tragedy


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - April is National Organ Donor Awareness Month. It's a way to encourage more people to consider becoming an organ donor.

For Emily Bowcutt, the topic of organ donation hits home.  Her family experienced both sides of organ donation, from receiving a life-changing transplant to giving the ultimate gift after a personal tragedy.

Emily’s brother Cody was involved in a bad hunting accident in 1998.  A shotgun blast cost Cody his shoulder and upper arm bone (humerus), but a successful transplant of a donated humerus gave him full mobility of his arm that he retains to this day.

But her family’s story doesn’t end there.

Years later, Emily's brother Jeremy was working in construction in Hawaii when his life was tragically cut short.

An accident on the job left him brain dead and his family was told he would not recover.

"At first I had a lot of hope," said Emily.

"But the more we heard, the more we knew he wasn't going to make it."

Deep in their grief, Jeremy's wife Kristine was opposed to the idea of donating his organs. That was until she heard the story of their neighbor Rob Parkinson, who had spent 15 years waiting for a lifesaving liver transplant.

"I tell people I was an old man first, young man second," Rob told Local News 8. "Because I really was declining in health. And, you prepare yourself to leave this life."

Emily says, the doctors didn't expect Rob to live another week. What surprised them even more was that Jeremy's liver was a perfect match.

When Jeremy's family chose to donate his organs, doctors say the red tape was quickly cut, and Jeremy’s liver was flown to Idaho, just in time to save another life.

"Whether we donated Jeremy’s organs or not, our outcome would have been the same. Jeremy was still dead. His kids still didn’t have their dad. We were still grieving. But through donation, Jeremy’s death gained meaning. We gave life back to someone else. Even though Jeremy didn’t get to see his kids grow up, our neighbor did,” Emily shared. 

"To turn something bad into something good just has so much more meaning," said Emily. "Not a doubt in my mind, He (Jeremy) would want this," she said. 

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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