Monday, June 20, 2011

Son's kidney donation to father remembered on Father's Day

On Father's Day, University of Michigan grad grateful for 'remarkable' gift

By Angelique S. Chengelis The Detroit News

Brooklyn, Mich. — More than likely, Michael Heroy has received his share of forgettable Father's Day gifts...Until this year.

On Jan. 12 at the University of Michigan medical center, Heroy, who has two degrees from Michigan, including an MBA, and played four years in the Michigan Marching Band, received a kidney from his son, Andy.

"Obviously, I'm lucky to be here," Heroy said during a U-M Hospital news conference Sunday at Michigan International Speedway to promote organ donation.

His four children volunteered to donate a kidney, and three were compatible. Michael Heroy was joined at the news conference by his sons Andy and Chris, the lead engineer on the No. 5 Sprint Cup car, which competed in Sunday's race at MIS, along with the two transplant surgeons from U-M that handled the surgeries.

Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, grand marshal of Sunday's race, also was there to encourage people to sign up to become an organ donor at

There are 111,000 waiting nationally for an organ transplant, and there were 17,000 kidney transplants last year. Every day, 19 people die while waiting for an organ transplant and another 138 are added to the national waiting list. About 400-450 transplants are performed at U-M every year; it is one of the largest such programs in the country.

Carr said his involvement is to make this a "life-saving network throughout this country."

Shawn Pelletier, a U-M surgical director, removed Andy's left kidney. The kidney was transported to Christopher Sonnenday, an assistant professor of surgery, who needed three hours for Michael Heroy's successful surgery. Heroy went home three days later with normal kidney function.

"It's truly remarkable the gift Andy gave his father," Pelletier said.

Sonnenday said the Heroy's story proves how important it is to be an organ donor.

"This (surgery) emphasizes the success and impact of kidney transplantation," Sonnenday said.

Andy Heroy said his recovery went well; he is determined to maintain a healthier lifestyle. He is eating better and quit smoking.

"I wouldn't be where I am today without him, and now the same is true for him," Andy said, laughing. "It's one of those beautiful gifts that keeps on giving. It's the best gift you can ever give anyone."

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario at
For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States,
register in your state at (Go to top right to select your state)
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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