From an Open House to Saving A Life!

My friend we’ll call Charlie had a failing liver condition.  He had been put on the national list for a liver transplant but was pretty far down the list.  I had mentioned his dilemma to another close mutual friend, only to find out later from Charlie that he had not meant for anyone else to know.  I felt terrible.

Well, six months went by and one Sunday in October I was at an Open House on South Wabash when my cell phone rang.  It was the mutual friend.  She was in Utah visiting her sister’s family and she had bad news:  her nephew had just died in a motorcycle accident. 

Then came the first miracle in this story.  She had somehow remembered my ‘indiscretion’ from 6 months before, when I told her about Charlie.  She wanted me to reach him and give him her number.  Even in the midst of their terrible tragedy in Utah, her nephew’s family wanted to donate his liver directly to our friend Charlie!  It would save his life because he was nowhere near the top of the basic national transplant list.

However, there was a huge catch – first, there would have to be a good match between the nephew and Charlie, and second, they had to hear back from Charlie within two hours or the liver would go to the next recipient in line in the national list.

I said OK, I would reach Charlie and have him call her back, but lo and behold I did not have his number with me at all, and the family home phone was unlisted!  Real Estate just about always comes first with me, but after a short second I knew I had to shut down my Open House and go try to find his number.  The challenge was that there was a Chicago Bears game starting in 30 minutes, and traffic on the South Side was crawling!

It took over half an hour but I finally got up to my office.  Since this was a few years ago, the only place I had his number was in a paper file, under the “J’s” for his last name.  I looked in my cabinet but the file for the “J’s” had been pulled!  I was in a panic, frantically scouring every drawer, when I noticed the bag where I keep all of my Joffrey Ballet information lying on a table. 

I looked inside and miraculously, again, there was the folder I wanted!  I had filed all of my Joffrey contacts in the “J” folder and thrown it into the bag for a meeting that week.  Charlie’s number was there along with all of my Joffrey contacts!

I was so relieved.  But when I called, no one answered.  All I could do was leave a message and pray.  I had no idea where he was or how to find him.  I tried again from time to time up until the two hour limit had gone away, but no one ever answered.

I heard nothing for the rest of the day, and went to bed that night feeling like I had somehow made a complete failure out of the whole thing.

The next day, I had some meetings and was away from my office.  When I got back, I had a message.  It was a little boy’s voice, and at first I was wondering what was going on.  Then I heard the little voice say “I’m Charlie’s son. I wanted to thank you for saving my Dad’s life!”  I started to cry.

It turned out they had been at a soccer game and got home and received my message just in time.  Charlie was rushed to the hospital to undergo tests, it turned out the nephew’s liver was a match, and within hours the liver arrived on a special flight to Chicago.  In all the hectic activity and the major surgery that followed the family was not able to get away and give me a call.

The humorous part was when Charlie’s wife called later that day to give me all the details.  It turned out that when I called their home to leave my message and give them the number to call, I had breathlessly said that the nephew’s family wanted to donate a KIDNEY! 

Thankfully Charlie knew me well enough to know I might have slipped up given the stressfulness of the situation and went ahead and called out to Utah anyway. 

Well, there you have it.  I guess the moral of this story is that it is worth it to try and make a difference, don’t give up and keep trying to find a way, even when it’s looking bleak.  As a broker I’m in a unique position to know some fairly close details about my clients, and I’m so happy that in this case I could be part of helping to make a good thing happen!

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  • What a great story Melinda! To save a life is as if you had saved the world. Genie

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