Michael Classen sends his daughter, Beth, a photo wearing this question on a t-shirt. She sends him one back wearing another that says, “Can you believe I gave a kidney to an Eagles fan?”
Now that the Eagles and Patriots are to meet in the Super Bowl on Sunday, they had an excuse to make the t-shirts. “We saw something similar with a Steelers fan,” Beth says. “We said we’d do it too if our teams ever meet in the Super Bowl. My daughter designed them for us.”
Michael received his first kidney transplant when his own began to fail from kidney disease. However, about a year later in 2010, a virus attacked it, requiring another transplant. All three of his children got tested and Beth was a blood match. “There wasn’t a decision to make,” she explains. “I just had to make sure my dad was OK with it. I had my fingers crossed that I could do it the whole time.”
Beth and her husband flew to Philadelphia from their home in Massachusetts the day before the surgery. The Family House had yet to be established, but they were able to stay in a hotel nearby at a discounted rate. On December 1st, Beth and Michael suited up in their matching hospital gowns and booties, and the surgery went seamlessly. They recovered together at his home nearby in New Jersey; she claimed the couch and he, the recliner. “We spent time watching TV together and pushing each other to walk around. It was the most time we’d spend together in a while,” she reflects.
Now, seven years later, Michael is doing just fine. He volunteers from time to time at the Family House. Each Christmas, he and Beth donate to the Family House in each other’s names. “I think it’s an amazing organization,” Beth says. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t around when my dad’s transplant happened.”
Beth tries to be an advocate for organ donation when she can. “Nobody thinks about it until it happens to them,” she explains. “I didn’t. I try to spread the word as much as I can.” She is humbled by the organ donor community all the time. “Just the other day, I met a man at work wearing the green donate life bracelet. It’s a small world.”
Beth and Michael have agreed that they will not let the outcome of the Super Bowl affect their relationship.