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Graduation Cap Goes Viral, Honors the Gift of Life.

When Moorhead’s own Carson Kitch was just 2 months old, he was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a liver disorder developed shortly after birth. His parents didn’t even know if he would see his first birthday. Eighteen years later, he graduated high school.

Only one thing could save Carson’s life: an organ transplant. Six months later after Carson’s diagnosis, his family’s prayers were answered when their son received the precious gift of life.

Eighteen years later, his liver is healthy and he honors his hero, Elijah, throughout life’s milestones. Prior to his high school graduation, LifeSource received a call from the Kitch family; his mother Rhonda expressed to us, “Carson would not have made it to graduation without his transplant.” Carson planned to honor his donor as he walked the stage at his high school graduation.

With help from Michelle Warren Photography, Carson had his picture taken in his graduation regalia; gown open to show his scars from the procedures he had that allowed him to be here today. On his cap, a thank you to the donor family, whose decision to donate after their loss, allowed him to live. The photo was not originally intended to be shared with anyone but family members; but, Carson decided to share it online to create awareness around the importance of organ donation.  

Carson’s mom Rhonda shared the following message along with the powerful tribute photo: 

message from Carson's mother to Elijah's family

With permission, LifeSource and transplant colleagues across the country shared Carson’s photo, reaching over an estimated 2 million people on social media. Carson is a bit awed by the response, but he commented: “We wanted to create awareness, so I think we did!” His story has truly inspired a nation.

Carson’s next chapter is to study at Minnesota State University Moorhead to become a nurse and continue to honor his donor’s legacy.

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