Noelle Maloney had a bad feeling when her son Casey bought a motorcycle at the end of January. Just weeks later, Feb. 21, she received the call no parent wants to receive.
“He was so close to home, turning left onto Black Acre Trail at an intersection we go through every single day,” said Maloney, of Acworth. “The driver in front of him wasn’t turning at the light. He got impatient, went around her, and that’s when he was hit by a truck.”
The driver of the truck tried to wake Casey and called 911. Casey was without oxygen until EMTs arrived 15 minutes later. He went into surgery upon arrival at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. Doctors discovered three broken bones in his left leg and no brain activity.
“The impact did it,” said Maloney through tears. “But the doctors assured me that meant he didn’t feel any pain.”
Casey was the youngest of three sons to Maloney and husband Doug. Maloney says even though he was 21, Casey was still her baby. He was her fearless one, the one they called “Boo Boo” as a child because he was always getting hurt. Casey was the one who grew his dark hair wild in high school, brandishing the “mullet hawk” – a combo of a mohawk and mullet. He was one his former lacrosse coach referred to as a hard worker, a sweet kid who was always smiling.
Credit: Courtesy of Noelle Maloney
Credit: Courtesy of Noelle Maloney
As the Maloneys grappled with saying goodbye to Casey, doctors approached them about donating his organs. Casey had renewed his license in September and had just recently acquired a motorcycle permit. He registered as an organ donor both times, but the information was not listed on either form of identification.
“I remember discussing it with Casey before, explaining what it means to be an organ donor,” said Maloney. “He wanted to be one. He said I don’t need my organs if I die, they should go to someone who does need them. I never imagined he’d die just months later.”
Casey’s parents agreed to the organ donation. After they said their goodbyes to their beloved son, the hospital held a walk of honor for him. A prayer was said, and hospital staff lined the hallway that led from Casey’s room to the elevator. When the family stepped outside, someone was playing a trumpet, another prayer was said, and a flag that reads “Donate Life” was raised in Casey’s honor.
Maloney kept loved ones informed about these happenings on Facebook. It was her post about donating Casey’s organs that caught the attention of family friend, Vivian Nagle.
“I read Noelle’s post that said she was going to meet with LifeLink about organ donation in 11 minutes,” said Nagle, 60, of Redington Shores, Florida. “I’ve known her for such a long time and felt so terrible for her grief. I contacted her through Facebook Messenger and said I absolutely hated to ask during such a difficult time but wanted to know if she’d be willing to donate Casey’s kidney to me.”
Nagle had stage 3 chronic kidney disease and was put on the donor list in November 2022. She was in desperate need of a kidney and terrified of being put on dialysis.
“Noelle replied instantly,” said Nagle. “She was so gracious and told me she wanted me to have Casey’s kidney.”
Many markers must match for a donor and recipient to be compatible – there’s blood typing, tissue typing, cross-matching, and more. Miraculously, Casey and Nagle were a match.
“I was in complete shock, and also so afraid that something would go wrong,” said Nagle. “However, on Monday, Feb. 27, I had the surgery at 5:30 a.m.”
Sometimes it takes a few weeks for transplanted kidneys to work, and that patient goes on dialysis while they wait. Casey’s kidney, which doctors said was pediatric quality, functioned in Nagle’s body immediately.
“It was another miracle,” said Nagle. “My numbers are all back to normal, I feel great, my recovery has been smooth. I think of Casey every day of my life. He’s living through me. He saved my life and I’m forever grateful to Casey and the family I have in the Maloneys.”
Maloney will see Nagle for the first time since the transplant in a few weeks.
“I told her to expect me to hug her often and that I’ll visit as much as I can,” said Maloney. “It will be emotional but seeing her will give me comfort.”
Nagle is among many who received an organ donation from Casey. His other kidney went to a 45-year-old woman in Alabama. His liver went to a 31-year-old man, his heart to a 69-year-old woman.
“It infuriates me to think people wouldn’t want to donate their organs,” said Maloney. “Why wouldn’t you? I know Casey would love to know how many lives he’s saved. It’s a beautiful thing. His purpose continues.”
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