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Because of you, I live

If you are anything like me, when asked who your favorite Superhero is, you immediately think of Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, right? At a young age, we are introduced to the world of superheroes. The definition states that a superhero is a type of heroic character who possesses supernatural or superhuman powers and is dedicated to fighting crime, protecting the public, and usually battling super villains. If you ask Laura Fay who her favorite superhero is, she will say without hesitation, “Tracey Harris!” Who is that, you ask? What is her superhuman power? Tracey Harris is a wife, mother of three girls, and Assistant Director of Student Success at the University of Northwestern Ohio. But it doesn’t stop there. Tracey saved Laura’s life by donating one of her healthy kidneys to her. Saving a life: there is no greater power than that, right?

Tracey became a living donor after she heard about Laura’s need for a kidney, through a friend. Tracey and Laura did not even know each other. On December 5, 2016 Laura and Tracey underwent surgery, and Laura received one of Tracey’s kidneys. In true superhero fashion, Tracey defeated the villain (in this case, Laura’s diseased kidney) and saved the day! Stan Lee could not have written a better story!

Laura was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis at only six months old. Tuberous Sclerosis is a rare medical condition that causes tumors on vital organs. In June of 1995, Laura had surgery to remove one of her kidneys, along with 10% of her remaining kidney. Laura has always been closely monitored by medical providers and has even participated in a few drug studies involving Tuberous Sclerosis. The drug studies were successful for several years. Then, last year, Laura’s family learned that Laura needed a kidney transplant, as her only remaining kidney was functioning at a very low percentage. The search for the perfect donor took months and months. A Facebook page was created, along with window stickers in hopes of finding a kidney donor. There were a total of 16 responses, which in turn provided 3 possible donors. Finally, the day came when the family was notified that a perfect match was located. Tracey Harris was no longer a stranger, she was Laura’s superhero!

Laura’s road to recovery has taken a lot longer than expected. Following the transplant, Laura’s new kidney did not immediately work. By the time her kidney began to function properly, Laura needed rehabilitation therapy, because she was too weak and unable to walk. Laura received rehabilitation briefly at Lima Memorial Hospital and then was transferred to Lost Creek Care Facility. By the end of March 2017, Laura was able to return to her parents’ home to continue her recovery. At that point, her recovery was going well and there was discussion about Laura returning to the Cedar Group Home, where she has lived since 1999. In late April, it was discovered that Laura had e-coli in her bloodstream. Her gallbladder also needed removed. Her new kidney once again was not performing at optimal levels. Laura was hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic for well over one month.

I am happy to report that Laura is doing great! She is now at her parent’s home after receiving rehabilitation at Springview Manor in Lima. According to Laura’s mother, Kathy, Laura was weaker after her last hospitalization than she was following the transplant. Laura also had to receive dialysis for a short time. Laura will continue with physical therapy until her strength is restored. If all continues to go well, it is hoped that Laura can return to her home by September 2017.

The entire Fay family is forever grateful to Tracey for her bravery and unselfish act of kindness. To show their gratitude, they gave Tracey a necklace with a special saying engraved on it, “Because of you I live,” along with the date “12-5-16.” The necklace also displays wings on it with the words “My angel.”

According to

  • More than 123,000 Americans and 3,400 Ohioans are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

  • 23 men and women die each day in the U.S. waiting for a transplant.

  • Every 48 hours, an Ohioan dies waiting for a transplant.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a living donor, you can visit the United Network of Organ Sharing’s website.

You can also contact one of Ohio’s eight transplant programs:

You could be someone’s superhero!


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