Utah father enjoys life with family thanks to organ donation

SALT LAKE CITY -- Dave Ericson has faced health struggles since childhood, but thanks to organ donation he is still able to be there for his family.

Ericson had an inflammatory disease beginning at age 12, and his colon was removed at 18.

After his first daughter was born he found out he needed a liver transplant, but a healthy liver didn't come.

“The doctors suggested that maybe I would consider taking a liver that was slightly more risky," he said.

The transplanted liver had hepatitis, but since there is now a cure for Hepatitis C, Ericson took the risk.

“Ultimately, as you think about things, you kind of develop this peace and what's right for you, and it feels right,” he said.

Ninety days after the transplant, Ericson was declared clear of Hepatitis C and is healthier than he's ever been in 25 years.

Now he can go swimming, running and biking, and he recently enjoyed a vacation to the beach with his three children.

His daughter said she grew up with a very sick father. He danced with her at her wedding, but was so sick he had to leave early.

“He’s been sick my whole entire life, and from the week after I was born, so, I’ve never known him healthy,” Jessica Shelby said. “I’ve never experienced what it's like to have a healthy dad."

Organ donation gave Dave Ericson and his family another chance at life, and they are very grateful to the organ donor who made it all possible.

“I just want them to know that we think about him regularly and he's not forgotten or lost and his life is now in all the happy moments we get to experience as a family, and that’s such a special gift to us, and I don’t know if we'll ever be able to express our gratitude to the donor," Shelby said.

To become an organ donor all you need to do is say "yes" on your driver's license or state ID card. You can also register online, here. It's also a good idea to let your family know about your decision so your wishes can be carried out.