Recipient Stories

Family of organ donor meets organ recipient for first time

By ANNIE BERGMAN
Associated Press Writer

Starr Kemp (left) and LaKinya Stewart (right) look thru a photo album

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — After waiting three years to meet the boy who receive her son’s right kidney, Starr Kemp wasn’t going to let another two hours stop her.
An unexpected delay in meeting 7-year-old Da-Correa Stewart and his mother LaKinya, didn’t seem to bother Kemp.
“I wouldn’t have left,” Kemp said Thursday as she sat with her family at the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency patiently waiting for the Stewarts’ arrival.
Kemp’s daughter, Bridget, and Kemp’s two grandchildren, Tyler and Garrett, traveled with her from McGhee for the meeting.
When Da-Correa and his mother entered the room, the mothers embraced.
Da-Correa received Blake Kemp’s right kidney in March of 2002 after 19-year-old Blake Kemp died in a car accident on the family’s farm. Starr Kemp gave Da-Correa two brightly wrapped gifts.
As Da-Correa opened his gifts — a toy John Deere tractor and a toy farm set — Kemp told him, “We bought you some farm toys. When Blake was little he played with John Deere tractors.
“Do you know who Blake is?” she asked the boy as he played with the tractor. “You got his kidney and he’s my son,” she told him.

 

Da-Correa (front) poses with the Kemp Family

Kemp also gave Stewart a photo album that included photos of Blake and her family. Kemp told Stewart about her son as they looked through the album, while the others helped Da-Correa put together his new farm set.
Da-Correa suffered from in-stage renal failure from the age of one-month, his mother said. He was on dialysis and was fed by a feeding tube until he received the transplant.
“It’s like a 180 degree turn (after the transplant),” Stewart said. “He looks like a totally different person,” she said.
Kemp said her entire family joined in the decision to donate her son’s organs. She and her husband initially approached the Baptist Hospital staff about the donation.
“We had a friend who had received a heart, so we knew what a miracle this was,” she said. Doctors took both of his kidneys, his heart and his liver.
When the family made the decision, they didn’t know Blake had signed as an organ donor on his driver’s license when he turned 16.
“A couple of weeks after he died I saw his license,” Kemp said. “I was so thankful that we had done what Blake would have wanted. I hope that he’s proud of what his mom is doing.”
And knowing her son’s death gave others live has helped her cope with the tragedy.
“My son is a hero. He saved four people’s lives. The comfort I’ve gotten from that is just unreal,” she said.
The two women plan to stay in touch now that they have met. Kemp even extended an invitation to Da-Correa to come to the farm so that he could ride on a real-life tractor.
Kemp also keeps in touch with the man who received her son’s heart, and has written letters to the liver and left kidney recipients as well.
Stewart said she didn’t know if her young son fully understood the meaning of Thursday’s meeting. But she said she would explain it to him when they return home. She said she would always have Blake Kemp in her heart.