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A New Measure of What’s Possible: Mason’s Home Run

“This story is about moments. Moments that I will never forget. Moments that are defined by travelling seventy-five feet.” Chris George shares the inspiring story of his son’s liver transplant.

How far is seventy-five feet? For most of us, seventy-five feet might be a trip to the mailbox to pick up the mail. It may only take a minute and is hardly remarkable or memorable. For a twelve-year-old boy, seventy-five feet is the length of a basketball court, it’s the distance from home plate to first base, it’s the first six seconds of a mile run. But, how far is seventy-five feet for a transplant recipient?

This story is about moments. Moments that I will never forget. Moments that are defined by travelling seventy-five feet. 

Mason was born with Alagille’s syndrome, a condition that primarily impacts liver function.  Since his birth, we always wondered if he would need a liver transplant. When we moved from Denver to Rosemount six years ago, our doctor believed that his liver would continue to improve and that a transplant was unlikely.

On President’s Day weekend in 2018, Mason fell ill with intense stomach pains. What seemed to be highly unlikely, was now a reality – the pain he was experiencing led to the diagnosis of a failing liver and the need for a transplant. In the span of just six weeks, Mason went from running up and down the seventy-five foot length of a basketball court to needing a walker to navigate our house.

After two weeks on the transplant list, his condition worsened. We spent additional days in the hospital, needing a wheelchair to visit Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone or the library. Travelling seventy-five feet now required the assistance of others.

On April 17, 2018 at 10:45 a.m., as I walked from my car towards my office, my watch buzzed with a call from my wife. It was unusual for her to call, but I stood frozen in place with tears streaming down my face. 

“Seventy-five feet from my office building, I learned that we had to pack our bags and head to the hospital. There was a potential donor.” 

My head immediately went into planning mode, but I knew that the first call to come in for a transplant rarely meant that it would happen. But still, we were hopeful.

On April 18, 2018, I walked my son to the operating room to receive the greatest gift ever.  The gift of life. The gift of a new liver.  

Ten hours after leaving the operating room, my wife and I walked into the PICU to see our son. The first thing we noticed was the jaundice that was already leaving his hands. Ever since his birth, Mason had a yellow tint to his eyes, face, and skin. The jaundice was so noticeable that strangers would tell us to go see a doctor. That wasn’t going to be an issue anymore. 

To get out of the PICU, Mason had to walk from his room to the nurses station and back – about seventy-five feet. Five days after entering the PICU, Mason summoned the will and found the strength to cover those seventy-five feet. A moment that I’ll never forget.

Over the next year, we celebrated many more moments during his recovery:

  • My wife and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary in the hospital as Mason recovered. 
  • To support Mason’s recovery, we asked people to send him a t-shirt of their favorite sports team for him to wear. Every morning as he got dressed, he put on a new shirt and was wrapped in the love and support of friends and family. 
  • We spent as much time as possible at Grandpa and Grandma’s lake house with his cousins — tubing behind the boat, watching movies, playing card games and laughing.

But there is one moment in his recovery that stands out. The moment that brings tears to my eyes as I write this. Twelve months after receiving his gift of life, on a cold afternoon in April, Mason stepped into the batter’s box. I silently sat along the first base line watching Mason play his favorite sport, baseball. Ball one, ball two, ball three….with tears streaming down my face, I watched Mason walk to first base after taking ball four in his first baseball game in nearly two years. 

Mason finishing up the final play of the championship game.

It’s seventy-five feet from home plate to first base. As I watched him drop the bat and jog down to first base all the memories and emotions of the past year came flooding out. Those seventy-five feet represented:

  • Thirteen years of doctor’s appointments and surgeries;
  • The fear and anxiety of needing a transplant and wondering whether a donor would be found;
  • The first major milestone of his recovery; and
  • All the new memories and possibilities that we will get to have because of this amazing gift.

A few games later, Mason got his first hit of the season, stole second base, and scored a run. A couple of months later, on Father’s Day, he assisted on the final out of a championship game. The first time he ever won a baseball tournament. 

Chris and Mason holding a trophy from the baseball tournament.

“Seventy-five feet is tied to the moments Mason and our family get to have because of a gift that can’t ever be fully repaid — the gift of life.”  

I’m a LifeSource ambassador because every day I’m reminded of the impact organ donation can have. I encourage you to take two steps today.

  1. Become an organ donor. Being an organ donor is about giving someone else a chance to have moments in life that might never have been possible. 
  2. LifeSource is the unheralded group that supports families through the organ, eye and tissue donation process and delivers life-saving transplants to the recipients who need them. Giving to LifeSource makes moments like Mason’s possible!!!