Blend­ing fam­i­lies

Man who re­ceived liver trans­plant to meet fam­ily of donor

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­news.com

A New­ton man who is do­ing well af­ter a liver trans­plant is about to meet the fam­ily of the man who saved his life by be­ing an or­gan donor.

Bill Hardy, who had suf­fered liver fail­ure, re­ceived a liver trans­plant Dec. 31, 2011. Hardy said the New Year’s Eve mir­a­cle would not have hap­pened if not for a para­medic named Kevin, who passed away af­ter be­ing in­volved in an ac­ci­dent, and hap­pened to be an or­gan donor.

Through the Life Link Foun­da­tion — a non­profit com­mu­nity ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion that fa­cil­i­tates the dona- tion of or­gans and tis­sues for wait­ing pa­tients — Hardy com­mu­ni­cated with Kevin’s fam­ily through let­ters about four months af­ter hav­ing liver trans­plant surgery.

“The one who orig­i­nally wrote me was his wife, Tara,” the 60-yearold Hardy said. “And then af­ter that let­ter, I got a let­ter from his mother Judy.”

Af­ter a year of keep­ing in con­tact, the two fam­i­lies will meet on Sun­day in Nor­cross at Life Links’ Ge­or­gia head­quar­ters. It’s a meet­ing that Hardy and his fam­ily say will no doubt be emo­tional.

Hardy, who owns Hardy’s Floor Cov­er­ing and Sup­plies in Cov­ing­ton, has three chil­dren, Al­li­son, Em- ily, and Josh, and six grand­chil­dren. He said his chil­dren sup­ported him through­out his wait for an or­gan donor, con­duct­ing fundraisers and ral­ly­ing their com­mu­nity and church, Grace Bap­tist, for spir­i­tual and fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Hardy’s daugh­ter, Emily Sch­nei­der, who lives in Saint Marys, has been ac­tive on Face­book, giv­ing up­dates on her fa­ther’s jour­ney since day one. Thurs­day she said she had mixed emo­tions of ex­cite­ment and ner­vous­ness about meet­ing Kevin’s fam­ily Sun­day with her fa­ther.

“I know that our hap­pi­ness is their sad­ness,” she said. “I hope they will

see our fam­ily and see that Daddy is keep­ing Kevin’s legacy go­ing and that our fam­ily will be­come their fam­ily.”

Hardy be­came aware of his dis­ease in Fe­bru­ary 2011 when he went into the hos­pi­tal with gall­blad­der prob­lems.

Doc­tors de­ter­mined that his liver was no longer func­tion­ing prop­erly.

Af­ter find­ing out her dad needed a liver trans­plant, Sch­nei­der said she im­me­di­ately started to pray for God to save him. How­ever, she said, she re­al­ized that the an­swer to her prayer would mean heartache for an­other fam­ily.

She said as her fam­ily goes into the meet­ing, she hopes that God will give them the right words to say.

“My hope is that we walk out with a peace that God will give us,” Sch­nei­der said. “The fam­ily has said that he was the type of man who would give the shirt off of his back and he never met a stranger, and we feel the same way about our dad.”

She said Kevin, a Chris­tian like her­self, was her fam­ily’s hero and that she couldn’t wait to “hug his neck in heaven.”

As for Hardy, he said meet­ing the fam­ily for the first time is hard to talk about, but he knows the grace of God and Kevin’s choice to be­come an or­gan donor are the rea­sons he is here to­day.

He ex­plained that peo­ple in need of an or­gan trans­plant have to get on a wait­ing list, which is con­trolled by the Life Link Foun­da­tion.

He said a suc­cess­ful donor has to have the same blood type and tex­ture, and weigh about the same as the per­son who needs the do­na­tion.

“I think I waited 91 days for a trans­plant af­ter I was put on the list, and it was a mir­a­cle,” he said. “I give God all the praise and the glory.”

Hardy said his ex­pe­ri­ence has him pray­ing and sup­port­ing other peo­ple in the com­mu­nity who are wait­ing for or­gans as he did.

He said, “God worked it out for him” and now he hopes to in­spire oth­ers.

Danielle Ever­son /The Cov­ing­ton News

Bill Hardy re­ceived a liver trans­plant on Dec. 31, 2011. He’ll meet the fam­ily of the donor on Sun­day.

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