After 2 decades of kidney disease and several years of dialysis, Gloria received the gift of life through a paired kidney exchange.
At only 58 years old, with plenty of life to live and love to give, Rick suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke which took his life but allowed him to give the gift of life to others.
Rick loved to laugh and make others happy. This son, brother, cousin, uncle, brother-in-law, colleague, teammate, and dear friend had an esteemed and award-winning career as a retail manager. Aside from his love for family and friends, he is also remembered for his prowess on the soccer pitch. In 1981-82, he led his high school soccer team to back-to-back Kentucky state championships. He went on to be an MVP at Marshall University.
Rick’s story is an example of how important it is to ensure the important people in your life know your wishes for organ donation. At the time of his death, organ procurement staff checked the donor registry and saw he wasn’t registered. Fortunately, Rick’s very close friend Dorothy was with Rick’s family at the hospital and recalled a recent conversation in which Rick was adamantly for donation. It was this conversation that reaffirmed his wishes to his family. His brother John shares, “Once we learned he wouldn’t survive, our family knew what Rick would want and that we needed to help him help others.”
Rick was able to save the lives of three others through gifting his liver and kidneys. He is also helping many others through his gifts of tissue – skin and bones. And his lungs were donated for research.
Rick’s donation is still quite recent – May 2022 – and so his family hasn’t yet been able to connect with any of his recipients. But they look forward to meeting them someday. For now, their family is focusing their energy on remembering Rick and honoring his gifts. Rick’s brother John and sister Kim (pictured below right, surrounding Rick) give insight into this process: “Knowing your family member is a hero is an honor. It’s still raw for us, but knowing he’s helping people and saving lives is a comfort for us and a sense of pride that’s difficult to explain. It wasn’t easy – the tragic, sudden loss without the ability for everyone to be there and say goodbye. But if put in the same situation we’d do it all again, knowing the gifts it gives and the honor it bestows on Rick and his memory.”
The Hulcher Family has a message for those who are on the fence about whether or not to register as a donor: “Learn as much as possible about the process – the hope it brings to recipients and the comfort it brings to donor families. Whatever choice you make is okay, but if you choose to register, please explain your decision to your family – especially those who will be consulted at the end of your life. And consider a Living Will to make your wishes abundantly clear. It removes a major question mark and enables your family to carry out your wishes without delay in a situation when time is of the essence.”
John adds, “It’s now our mission to educate others on organ donation, boost donor registration, and help other donor families. Rick will not only help people directly through his gifts, he will help many others indirectly through our advocacy for organ donation.”