Two families bonded together by the heart of a teenage baseball player, Brendon McLarty. Just two days after his fatal Asthma attack, Brendon's heart was surgically implanted in Kerry Creach. Kerry had been told just hours earlier that he wouldn’t make it through the night.
Oklahoma is a first person authorization state, which is an individual’s legally binding decision to become an organ and tissue donor after his or her death. The decision to become an organ donor by an adult cannot be overridden; however, families of minors must make this decision for their children. Brendon was a registered organ donor on his driver’s license, and his parents honored his wishes.
With the help of a stethescope, Lori and Jon were both able to listen to Brendon's heart beating inside Creach's chest.
“From the moment Jon, Brendon’s dad, and I knew our son was not going to make it, we decided to honor his wishes to be an organ donor. We wanted something good to come of our son’s death, and helping to save other’s lives was just that,” said Brendon’s mom, Lori McLarty.
“We are so very appreciative that his heart went to such an amazing man, and so happy to have had the opportunity to meet Kerry and hear Brendon’s heart beat again,” Lori said. The Creach and McLarty families have been in touch for the past few years, and Creach walked in the Memorial Marathon’s 5K with Brendon’s family in 2014.
“Every year we run in the Memorial Marathon to remember Brendon. It gives me a chance to tell Brendon’s story through our annual
t-shirt, and benefit a scholarship fund in his name,” Lori said. The Memorial Marathon coincides with National Donate Life Month, and LifeShare is celebrating the selfless gifts of life given by people around the state of Oklahoma. LifeShare is the federally designated organ procurement organization in the state of Oklahoma and is responsible for organ and tissue donation statewide.
The Brendon McLarty Memorial Foundation urges everyone to consider becoming an organ and tissue donor. In choosing to be an organ donor on his driver's license at 16, Brendon was able to touch the lives of at least four people after his death. “Brendon McLarty saved many lives and left an unforgettable legacy for many to follow,” said Jeff Orlowski, president and CEO of LifeShare. “The actions of his family following through with Brendon’s wishes, speaks volumes to their care and compassion for others.”
Across the United States, more than 121,000 individuals wait for an organ transplant to save their life, 700 of these are Oklahomans. Thousands more are in need of tissue and corneal transplants to restore mobility and sight. Without the generous gift of more than 24,000 donors in the United States per year, many would still be waiting for a lifesaving gift.