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How one young organ donor gave five others a chance at life

On the left is Evan Kimball. On the right is L.B. LaForce, the man who received Evan's heart.

In the lower right hand corner of Evan Kimball’s driver’s license was the word “DONOR” next to a red heart.

That meant he elected to be an organ donor when he was registering for his license at 16 years old.

Last October, at 18 years old, Evan was killed in a car crash.

Credit Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio
In their son's honor, Lydia and Ward Kimball are trying to inspire others to become organ donors.

Lydia and Ward Kimball are Evan’s parents. As the doctors recovered their son’s organs, the two worked on what’s called directed donation – they selected the patients to whom Evan would give a second chance.

“We actually reached out to family and friends and asked if they had anyone that they knew that was in need of a transplant,” Lydia Kimball said.

That’s how they found L.B. LaForce. He received Evan’s heart.

This Saturday L.B. LaForce, alongside Lydia and Ward Kimball, will walk in the 5K at the Transplant Games of America, a sporting festival for people who have had transplant surgeries that saved their lives.

“It’s basically kind of like the Olympics for all organ transplant recipients and you’re allowed to compete and do different events,” LaForce said. “And it’s a good way to show others what transplant patients really are capable of and to honor your donors.”

Hear Lydia and Ward Kimball explain what it means to them that L.B. will be able to participate in the Transplant Games thanks to Evan's decision to become a donor below. 

LaForce said what Evan and his parents did for him is an honor.

“It just means the whole world to me,” he said.

"It just means the whole world to me."

In total, five people received organs and two gained sight thanks to Evan’s decision to become an organ donor.

But those seven people aren’t the only ones who will benefit. Since their son’s death, Lydia and Ward Kimball have worked on a campaign, called Evan Kimball's Challenge, to encourage as many people as possible to become organ donors themselves.

Credit Courtesy of Lydia Kimball
Evan Kimball and his family.

“Through our grief and our healing, we’re just trying to inspire others to just have some forethought,” Lydia Kimball said. “No one wants to talk about their mortality. But you never know when God’s going to call you home. And there are 3500 people, just in the state of Michigan, currently on the transplant list.”

That means 3500 people in the state are in need of an organ, Ward Kimball said.

Originally, the Kimballs set a goal of inspiring 444 people to become organ donors in Evan’s honor. Four was Evan’s number in sports. The pair have surpassed that number and are now working toward another goal of 4,444.

You can register to become an organ donor in Evan’s honor here if you have a Michigan driver’s license and here if you’re from another state.

GUESTS L.B. LaForce Lydia and Ward Kimball

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