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Man saves woman’s life, becomes rare double living donor

by Bridgett Ellison
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When someone’s in the right place at the right time for someone in crisis, it’s often called a miracle.

Four years ago, a young blood donor decided he wanted to step up his giving and donate his organs anonymously, not once but twice. Then, a chance meeting, followed by an amazing chain of events, created a miraculous change of plans.

In 2019, newlyweds Scott and Katie Freeman were on their honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when they met Tyler Rosen. They soon discovered several connections. They were all from Canada and it just so happened one of Scott’s coworkers was also Tyler’s mentor for his upcoming liver donation. Later, another surprise, unbeknownst to them, Katie’s parents and Tyler’s mom had actually been friends for years.

“So that was our first like, aha, like mind-blowing. Whoa, we were meant to meet,” Rosen said.

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“So we just thought, you know, you’re an amazing person. We want to keep in touch,” Katie Freeman said.

That same year, after returning from Mexico, Rosen successfully donated 70% of his liver to an anonymous recipient.

Two years later, it was the Freemans who needed help. After the premature birth of their daughter, Palmer, Katie developed a rare, often fatal embolism. Multiple organs failed and Katie’s kidneys never recovered. She was put on a waitlist for a transplant and doctors said it would take two to three years to find a match.

“So they said to my husband that we need to cast as big of a net as possible because of my multiple blood transfusions along with pregnancy, both of those, cause your antibody count to be quite high and difficult to find a match,” Katie said.

In hopes of speeding things up, Scott made a Facebook page about Katie’s desperate need to find a matching donor. As soon as Tyler saw the page, he reached out.

“I remember where I was. I was in the NICU, I called him and he said, ‘You’re never going to believe this. But I signed up 30 days ago to donate my kidney anonymously and I’d like to try and make this from an anonymous donation to a direct donation to Katie,’” Scott explained about Tyler’s offer to try to help.

“I said to Scott, ‘We were meant to meet for whatever reason, this is going to work. I have such a gut feeling about it,’” Rosen recalled about the initial call to get the matching process started.

With Rosen already registered, his data was fast-tracked to test for a match with Katie. After months of testing, amazing news, his kidney would be a perfect match.

“All levels matched, no antibody rejections, so it was pretty miraculous,” Rosen said.

“Yeah, miraculous is probably the best way to put it. I just remember feeling so relieved,” Katie explained.

And after 11 months on dialysis and pandemic-related scheduling delays, the surgery was finally set for July 2022.

“I was scheduled to be on dialysis on my daughter’s birthday. So I drove them crazy. I said, ‘I better be off of dialysis by my daughter’s birthday.’ And I’m getting emotional, but I was off dialysis and recovered, able to enjoy my daughter’s birthday. And Tyler was there to enjoy it with us, so it was, it was quite special,” Katie explained.

With his right kidney to Freeman and his previous liver donation to an anonymous recipient, Rosen became a rare, double-living organ donor. There are only an estimated 10 anonymous double-living donors in Canada and about 50 in the U.S. He says the gifts far outweigh what he went through to make it happen.

“In the grand scheme of life, what is a month of discomfort, right? For me, knowing that I’m able to directly you know, extend somebody’s chance of life or improve their life conditions, I think it’s a gift that you can’t compare it to anything else,” Rosen said.

Today, Katie and little Palmer are thriving. Surrounded by loved ones, they just celebrated Palmer’s second birthday. It’s a time Katie says will forever commemorate their collective triumph over trials.

“I appreciate myself more. I appreciate life more. I appreciate strangers more. It’s just, there’s just a whole new appreciation of life,” Katie said.

“I’m not a religious man. And it was like, there’s some experiences throughout this. That felt extremely spiritual,” Scott explained. “Yeah, he’s an angel. He’s a real-life angel.”

Since Rosen is like family to the Freemans, they have asked him to be Palmer’s godfather.

If you would like to be a living tissue and organ donor, you can check the following websites out:

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