BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Todd Schroeder’s life was literally handed to him.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for over a year,” he said. “How can you ever say thank you to someone with just your words who saves your life?"
On February 28, 2018 doctors told Schroeder he was near death. He needed a new liver, but a stranger made sure he had a second chance.
“Two weeks later, I received that lifesaving gift from the Frazier family,” Schroeder said. It’s a day Schroeder says he’ll never forget.
“He always told me, if something happens to me, make sure you donate my organs,” said Shara Frazier.
Schroder’s gift came from Wayne Frazier, 62. He died from cardiac arrest. His wife, Shara, remembers that dark day in March of 2018. She says they were at home; Wayne was watching the LSU basketball team in the NIT tournament when he went to bed early. In the middle of the night, she says she woke up to find her husband shaking.
“But he took one big breath and short breath, and he just stopped breathing," she said.
Frazier was placed in a coma, but after several days passed, doctors brought him out of the coma for brain tests. Shara says that’s when doctors told her and the family Wayne wouldn’t come back.
He died in Baton Rouge March 19, 2018.
Schroeder was at the Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Institute in New Orleans, with mixed emotions waiting for an organ. Schroeder and his wife are originally from West Hills, California, but moved to New Orleans to be a transplant recipient.
It was a match made in heaven, Shara says.
“Right away I said, ‘Can he be an organ donor?’ They all kind of looked at me. They were surprised I said that right away,” she recalled.
She says she felt like it was her job to make sure her husband’s organs were donated because that was his wish.
Divine intervention has a way of connecting people. Both families have been communicating via Facetime for over a year now, but on Thursday, June 13, they met face to face.
“Well I’d be lying if I said I didn’t break down,” Schroeder said. “Every morning when I get up, I see my surgery scars and Wayne is with me every step in my life.”
Shara says when she met Schroeder Thursday afternoon, it was like hugging a part of Wayne.
“He was alive inside of him. Wayne’s still alive. He’s living in Todd and helping him live his best life," she said.
Lori Steele with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) says right now, around 2,000 people are waiting for that second chance. Across the county, around 120,000 people who are waiting on an organ transplant, Steele says. In Louisiana, about 2.6 million people are donors, which is over half the population. The goal, Steele says, is to always get more.
Both these families are now advocating for organ donation and even though Frazier lost her husband, another gets to live. She calls that a blessing.
“This is bigger than Wayne. It’s bigger than Todd. It’s about making awareness so more people can live,” she said.
Visit LOPA if you’d like to become a donor.