Organ donations are the ultimate gift as they basically give new life to the recipient. All over the world, thousands of intensely sick people get on a waiting list to replace failed organs in their bodies to get a second chance at life.
Josh Harrold, from Southern California, made the greatest sacrifice when he donated a kidney to his best friend. Now he is going one step further – Harrold is planning to give part of his liver to an extremely ill baby girl.
Perfectly healthy, Harrold is about to participate in life-changing surgery for the second time around.
His desire to help stems from the helplessness one feels when loved ones are in the throes of medical emergencies.
Nine years ago, he found out that his wife Erica had a brain tumor, and most doctors provided a dire prognosis.
He shared, “Everywhere we went, every neurosurgeon was telling us, ‘I’m sorry. Your tumor is inoperable. You have maybe two to four years to live. We can do chemo, but that’s all we can do. But we came to USC and the neurosurgeon was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.'”
Erica’s surgery and recovery was successful, which pushed Harrold to want to be part of the good news that doctors delivered to patients. He did just that when his friend Kelly Van Den Berghe, who lives in Sta. Cruz, needed a kidney in 2017.
Van Den Berghe suffered from polycystic kidney disease, which often means a life with dialysis if the victim does not get a kidney transplant.
Van Den Berghe asked for help on Facebook and Harrold was the first person to reach out. He did not hesitate to donate a kidney but needed to check with his wife.
He said, “I was like, ‘Erica, did you happen to see Kelly’s post?’ And Erica looked at me and was like, ‘You want to do it don’t you?'”
Fortunately, he was a good match. Van Den Berghe said, “He’s part of me. And my kidneys are perfect. So he saved my life.”
He may have donated a kidney, but Harrold was not done. When his daughter was born, she was premature and weighed a mere 2 pounds and 14 ounces.
She spent eight weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit and he saw how families agonized and waited for organ donors for their children. That’s when Harrold decided to add his name to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ donor program.
And so years after a donated kidney, Harrold is now set to donate roughly 25% part of his liver to a girl, a stranger, who is less than a year old.
He shared, “I went in for a battery of tests and luckily everything matched out. It seems like I’m this baby’s perfect match.” After surgery, his liver is expected to regenerate in around six weeks.
There is certainly an overwhelming global need for organ donors. According to the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation, there were 129,681 solid organ transplants around the world in 2020, which was a 17.6% decrease from 2019.
This accounted for only around 10% of global needs. The Health Resources and Services Administration also states that 105,800 people are on the national transplant waiting list, with a new one added every 10 minutes.
Each donor can save eight lives and enhance over 75 more. Harrold added, “Whether it’s just checking that donor box on your driver’s license, or giving blood… You don’t have to go to the extremes that I’m going to, but anybody can be a hero.”
When Harrold donated a kidney to his friend, they used their new outlook in life to help spread the importance of registering as an organ donor.
In the U.S., while 90% of adults support organ donation, only 60% are actually signed up as donors. Harrold is proving for the second time that organ donation is the definitive gift, a lifeline to those who thought that they were running out of time.
Watch the video below to learn more: