On Friday, April 21 at 9 a.m., the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (ADOT MVD) and the Donor Network of Arizona will raise a “Donate Life” flag to commemorate National Blue & Green Day: a day to honor organ donors.
But, Friday will also be a day to celebrate one family’s moving story, a story that turned grief and loss to love and hope.
In December of 2016, 27-year-old John Stussy died suddenly. In order to deal with her grief, his sister, Angie Lavalais, posted on her Facebook page asking for prayers from her friends and family just before his death.
Around the same time of Stussy’s death, another man named Elan Edwards, husband and father of two young children, was dying of kidney failure caused by two conditions he was fighting.
His only option for survival was a kidney transplant. Twenty family members offered their kidneys, but none were a match.
When a friend of Lavalais, Kristy Lafitte, reached out to ask about Stussy, she was informed of his passing. Lafitte then shared Edwards’ story with Lavalais and knowing her brother was an organ donor, offered to donate one of his kidneys to Edwards.
On try 21, doctors found a match.
The kidney saved Edwards' life. The following January, the two families met for the first time, with faces painted in raw emotion. Edwards was in tears.
The commemoration of this story and many like it will take place at the Motor Vehicle Division headquarters at 1801 W. Jefferson St. in Phoenix during National Blue & Green Day.
ADOT MVD reminds people that merely checking a box on a driver’s license application can save a life, just like Edwards’.
Arizonans may also support organ donation awareness by ordering a Transplantation Awareness (Organ Donor) specialty license plate through the MVD. For more information about specialty license plates, visit azdot.gov/mvd.
Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.