Keith didn’t let long distance get in the way of true love. He also knew full well that his then-girlfriend Karen would eventually need a liver transplant. Even so, in 2001, he moved to River Falls, Wisconsin, to be near her while she attended college. Soon after, Karen’s symptoms from her liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, required her to undergo a liver transplant at Mayo Clinic. Karen was just 22.
The two were married in 2005 and moved to West Central, Illinois. The following year, Karen suffered a bowel obstruction that required three surgeries.
A welcomed blessing came in 2013, when Karen gave birth to Nathan—named after Karen’s liver donor. But, again, Karen’s health down-spiraled and, in 2016, she required a second liver transplant and a kidney transplant.
Rewind back to 2008. While at Mayo with his wife, Keith decided to donate blood at the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center.
“It was handy to donate, as someone who is already there with a patient,” he says. “It was something that I was able to do without causing any delay in my wife’s appointments.”
Since then, whenever the couple visits Mayo, Keith continues to donate in his wife’s honor. As for Karen? She is currently doing well and on her way to recovery.
“I know that I will never be able to give back the amount of blood it has taken to keep my wife alive,” Keith adds. “But if I can help Mayo Clinic provide blood for their patients, then I am more than glad to.”
To read more stories like this, visit the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program's blog page.
Do you have a story about the impact that blood donation has played in your life? If so, call (507) 284-4475 or send us an email at email@example.com. We would love to hear your story!