Posted: Oct 7, 2011 1:19 AM by Dr. Anya Winslow
Updated: Oct 7, 2011 8:22 PM
"Ambitious, selfless, and giving" are the words Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, used to describe Cadet First Class Marc Henning.
Tears, tissues, friends and family filled a room at the Donor Alliance Recovery Center in Denver.
A special ceremony was held on Thursday morning bringing together two families across hundreds of miles for the first time - The Hennings and the Logans - who are eternally bonded through the gift of life from organ donation.
The partnership was made possible through the Donor Alliance specifically, the Military Sharing Program.
During his senior year in September of 2010, Marc Henning ended his life only to have the opportunity to continue giving more of himself to others.
"It's very satisfying that he's able to help someone else's quality of life," says Marc's mother Linda Henning.
Almost six years ago, the now 51-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Robert Lee Logan faced a difficult future.
"No more swimming. No more baths. No more hot tubs," recalls Logan.
He is neither bitter nor remorseful as he described his future after his kidneys began the downward spiral into failure in 2005. "You learn to adapt," he asserts and "you learn to modify your schedule."
"I had to go on dialysis...sitting in that chair four hours every other day [which turned into a daily routine]...I did that for five years," says Logan.
Until, September of 2010, a godsend occurred. Logan was matched to a kidney donor, but his gain meant another person had died.
While in the hospital with their son, the Hennings decided to donate their son's organs, and it was in their loss they knew they could give the gift of life to many.
"We just feel like that's the greatest gift we could have given," says Linda.
"How do you tell someone how grateful you are knowing the sacrifice that had to happen in order for you to get [the organ]," says Logan.
The ceremony honored and celebrated Marc's life, as well as his life altering gift to Logan - a right kidney.
"I'm known as ‘RKR'," says Logan, which means ‘right kidney recipient' he says chuckling and later adding that not only will he get to see his grandkids grow-up, but he can also do the many things he could no longer do while suffering from his disease.
"I can go swimming. I can sit in a hot tub. I can take a bath. I can hop in a plane in a moment's notice and go anywhere," he says.
In a twist of fate, this past summer Linda needed a little help from her son, too.
"I had a tooth that I had extracted and then I'm going through an implant process. Part of Marc's bone has been implanted in my gum. So that, you know, I have a part of him again."
Showing us that the gift of life can come full circle - from mother to son and back...and to many more.
* Marc is shown in photo.
** Marc's organs (2 kidneys, 2 lungs, liver, and pancreas) saved 4 lives; his soft tissue and bone will impact the lives of hundreds.
*** For 2011, the Donor Alliance reports that nationwide 111,838 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants and in Colorado and Wyoming that number is 2,121.
**** If you would like to learn more about organ and tissue donation and would like to register to be an organ and tissue donor, click here.
***** You can also register at the Division of Motor Vehicles the next time you obtain or renew your driver's license.