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Organ Donor Saves Coyle’s Life; Family Inspires Others to Join Registry

If you meet little Coyle Bauer on the playground – an energetic little boy with bright blue eyes and an infectious smile – don’t expect to hear about the typical dinosaur or truck facts. He’ll probably tell you about his kidney.

In June 2023 Coyle celebrated three years since receiving a kidney from a deceased donor that changed his life. He holds up three fingers, smiling in front of a giant green cake featuring Donate Life ribbons and hands lovingly cradling a kidney.

It had been a long journey for Coyle and his family to reach that day of celebration. At her 19-week ultrasound, Coyle’s mom – Kayla – learned of some abnormalities with her growing son. In utero doctors could see Coyle’s bladder and kidneys were much larger than the rest of his body and the amniotic fluid protecting him in Kayla’s belly was dwindling. At 37 weeks, Coyle was born early via emergency cesarean section.

After spending weeks in the neonatal care unit, Coyle was able to go home. But just a few months old, Coyle’s kidney function began dropping. His doctors knew he would eventually need a transplant, but he needed to gain weight to undergo the surgery.

Before turning 1-years-old, Coyle’s kidney began to fail – he met the weight requirement and was healthy enough to be placed on the transplant list but would need to begin dialysis in a few months if that kidney didn’t come.

Coyle’s family also explored finding a living donor, but no one in the family was a match since Coyle was so small.

After 7 months of waiting, Coyle’s dad – a firefighter in Faribault, Minnesota – was working a 24-hour shift when they got the call on a Sunday night that there was a potential kidney for Coyle from a deceased donor.

“I broke down in front of the guys,” Josh said. “I was so grateful to that person who added themselves to the donor list.”

At 19 months old, Coyle underwent a successful transplant surgery and a long recovery which began at Mayo Clinic in Rochester before the family spent additional time at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester.

“Coyle never complained. He’s always happy,” said Kayla. “It was hard to tell when he was feeling bad.”

Although Kayla and Josh were thrilled to finally have their son home, there was something they felt compelled to do before moving on to the next chapter: neither Josh nor Kayla were registered as organ donors.

“The first thing we did was go to the DMV and register [as organ donors],” said Kayla.

“How can I expect someone else to be a donor if I’m not willing?,” said Josh.

Now that they understand the need and impact firsthand, Josh and Kayla are passionate about encouraging others to do the same.

“Picture Coyle, and ask yourself ‘why not’,” said Josh. “After you pass away, you can’t take your organs with you anyways.”

The Bauers hope to someday meet the family of the young woman who saved Coyle’s life.

“We are so thankful and grateful for their daughter – that she was a donor and that they saved Coyle’s life,” said Kayla. “And because of her, we are donors now too.”