COLORADO SPRINGS – In this Your Healthy Family as part of Donate Life Month, we’re wrapping up the story of three young brothers from Canon City, Colorado who have a new outlook on life, and each other – thanks to the gift of organ donation.
Garland Root is the boys father. Marcus is 12, Christopher is 11, and Austin is 10 years old. Garland says he is amazed at how far the boys have come since each of their kidney transplants. “Before, they were tired, they were sick and constantly had no energy to do anything. Then after the recovery process they actually thrived. They got up and started to run around – they were completely different people.”
It was a diagnosis of a rare genetic disease called Cystinosis for Marcus, Christopher and Austin that meant among the many challenges they faced, all three needed a kidney transplant.
Garland says Marcus, the oldest of the three lead the way, “He is literally the leader, when he found out Christopher and Austin were going to need transplants, he took charge. He was there for them and telling them what was going to happen, and he would say, ‘I’ll be there with you.’ Every single one of the siblings said, ‘I will be there with you,’ and they have been. The entire family has worried about them, and cared for them. I’m very proud of every one of them.”
Traveling the organ recipient path together, has not only given the boys a healthier path forward in life, it’s bonded them in a special way.
Dr Margret Bock, MD, a pediatric nephrologist with Children’s Hospital Colorado treats the boys. Dr. Bock says, “The boys are mature beyond their days. They know all their medicines. Marcus was the guy who made the footsteps in the snow. He did this first, and he is now such a good role model for the two littler guys. He takes life, just as it is. He moves on, he’s had many surgeries and the other boys just follow suit.”
Garland explains, “They are so close because they have something in common that nobody else has in common in the house. They know that they have received kidney donations and they know that they have a second chance at life and they don’t want to waste it. They want to be there for each other, and they have other siblings that want to be there for them as well.”
The boys future with cystinosis will include medication and close medical care for life, but because of the gift of a new kidney, the family can move forward with hopes and dreams and even a summer camping trip.
Garland says, “My hope for their future is that they’ll thrive and want to continue life day to day. They want to go to college and Christopher’s already got a dream he wants to go in the military, he also wants to be a cop or firefighter. Both Christopher and Austin are so much like Marcus in that way, one has even mentioned they want to be a doctor.”
While the these boys are now looking forward to a bright future, a needed vital organ continues to be a milestone for many others who are in need.
Dr Bock explains, “There are so many people, both children and adults who are waiting for a life saving organ, whether that’s a liver or a heart. For us and what we do at Children’s day in and day out, organ donation saves lives – period. It doesn’t just save lives, it changes a life where quality is limping along not allowing kids to thrive and grow.”
Sharing the story of how impactful a donated organ has been is the reason why these boys wanted to share their story. Garland says, “Our one thing we would love to see is to change one person’s mind, from not being a donor to being a donor. You not only save one person, or one child’s life, you are saving multiple people’s lives. I do really appreciate those people who are organ donors, because they are saving peoples lives.”
There is also a special connection the Root family and these boys will forever have with Children’s Hospital Colorado says Garland. “Children’s Hospital has been amazing. Their staff and their doctors, and even the cafeteria people they’re all polite and so understanding of what families are going through. Now my boys, they grow and thrive thanks to those doctors and the staff and the nurses. It used to be that they (the boys) would scream and yell, ‘I don’t want to go there,’ and now they eager to go. They call it their hospital, Denver children’s hospital is their hospital. Colorado Springs Children’s Hospital, is their hospital, and just like every other child they’re going to get the best treatment possible there.”
Garland says, “They are so appreciative of the second lease on life, they’re just too shy to say it on camera but they’ve even said it themselves, their living for two now.”
Living for two, because someone chose to donate life, by becoming an organ donor says Garland. “I want to say to the families, and the donors who have that marked on their driver’s license, that they are an organ donor, thank you for being that person. If we can just get one person to change their mind, and become a donor – you would save so many lives.”
To learn more about how to become an organ donor, visit donatelifecolorado.org