It's a lifesaving decision, and all it takes is a check in a box. The US Department of Health reports about 18 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. Now, an Oklahoma couple has made it their mission to raise awareness through their inspiring story.
Today 48 year old Todd Begley has a clean bill of health, but in August of 2013 he was told he had only six months to live. Doctors found an inoperable and cancerous mass on his liver. Begley was told his only hope was a liver transplant, and it had to happen fast.
"It was out of my hands. There was nothing I could do about it," said the father of three.
Fortunately, Begley didn't have long to wait. Just two months later doctors called saying a match had been found.
"Everything just matched up perfect on it," Begley said. "It was like it was meant to be."
Begley received his transplant on January 21st at the Integris Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Center. Grateful for his doctors, his health and his family, you'd think that was the end of Begley's story. However, the story really isn't about Todd, it's about his wife Jennifer.
"I've actually been a part of the donation process before," Jennifer said. "I've had a husband pass away and he decided to check and donate his self."
Jennifer is one of the few people in the world to experience both sides of organ donation. She knows the heartache of losing a loved one, and now, the joy of new life. It's wisdom she's passed on to Todd.
She told him, "It's not because of you that they're passing away, but you're just helping them live on. What it does for that family, it's a great thing."
In the years since Jennifer's husband's passing, she's received letters from donor recipients. It's proof that the gift he gave is still giving.
"It's not just saving his life. It's saving our life. It saved our family's life," Jennifer said.
Now Todd and Jennifer are writing their own letter, knowing their lives have come full circle thanks to a simple check of a box.
"I feel remorse for the family," said Todd. "I pray for the family. We keep them in our prayers constantly and give thanks for the opportunity that we had to continue on."
Currently one million people in the US are signed up to be organ donors, but doctors say it's still not enough.