If you've ever had a family member or friend waiting for a transplant, you know how volunteering to donate an organ can give them a second chance at life.
In fact, it’s what led two firefighters from South Carolina to Western New York.
"Our relationship is more like brothers," said Chaz Cannon, organ donor.
Cannon and Jordan Lutz are both firefighters who share a close friendship. When Jordan learned his sister Scarlet's stage IV colon cancer had spread and she would need a liver transplant, Chaz stepped up and got tested through the living donor transplant program at UR Medicine.
He was a match.
"It surprises me that more people don't do it,” Cannon said. “Just because I'm healthy enough that I could give a part of me to help somebody else.”
On October 30, a transplant surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center took a portion of Chaz's liver and placed it into Scarlet. UR Medicine is one of only two centers in the nation to offer liver transplants to patients like her.
"With the liver transplant she has up to 60 to 80 percent survival at five years, that's quite pretty impressive," said Dr. Roberto Hernandez Alejandro. "She was not gonna be able to continue holding chemotherapy or other type of treatments.”
Doctors said Scarlet continues her recovery and may be released within the next week. She will have weekly follow up visits.
"Now while very small, cure is actually potentially an option, it's very, very small, but remission is what we’re looking for," said Mike Kasperbauer, Scarlet's husband.
Chaz was released from the hospital a week ago, but during his stay he created a bucket list of landmarks he wanted to visit in Rochester. The first stop: Nick Tahou's for a plate!
"Other people were worried like, ‘You just got out of the hospital,’” Cannon laughed.
The next thing on his list: a New York Yankee tattoo.
"They're gonna do like the N.Y. and he's gonna put like a flash art type liver behind it,” Cannon said.
He said the main thing on his to do list was successfully completed: to help someone.
"You can't really explain it, but it's amazing,” Cannon said. “God has blessed us all so much.”
"He's given us an opportunity at having a longer life together as a family,” Kasperbauer added.