After donating kidney to woman, OC man to donate part of his liver to baby at Children's Hospital LA

Thursday, December 8, 2022
OC man becomes an organ donor for 2nd time
Josh Harrold is a man in perfectly good health, awaiting a life-changing surgery that has been four years in the making. He plans to give part of his liver to a baby girl who is less than 12 months old.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Outside of Keck Hospital of USC, a man in perfectly good health awaits a life-changing surgery that has been four years in the making.

When Josh Harrold's daughter Amelia was born prematurely, she weighed at just 2 pounds, 14 ounces. He spent eight weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit and repeatedly saw the agony of families waiting and hoping.

His time at the NICU is when he vowed to help. He added his name to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles' donor program, and recently got the call.

"I went in for a battery of tests and luckily everything matched out," Harrold said. "It seems like I'm this baby's perfect match."

He does not know who this child in need is. She is a stranger, only described as a baby girl less than 12 months old. He plans to give her part of his liver on Friday. He will be giving roughly 25% of the organ -- which should regenerate in roughly six weeks.

Harrold spoke with an ease that contradicts the gravity of what he is scheduled to endure, and knows he's being cavalier. After all, he's been in this position before.

In 2017, his good friend Kelly Van Den Berghe needed a kidney. She has polycystic kidney disease, which is genetic and often means a life with dialysis if not for a living donor.

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Van Den Berghe, who lives in Santa Cruz, logged onto Facebook asking for help. Harrold was the first person to reach out, he just needed to check with his wife.

"I was like, 'Erica, did you happen to see Kelly's post?' And Erica looked at me and was like, 'You want to do it don't you?'" he said.

So that summer, he did. Both he and Kelly were a match.

"He's part of me," Van Den Berghe said. "And my kidneys are perfect. So he saved my life."

Harrold's infectious light came from a pretty dark place. Nine years ago, his wife Erica learned she had a brain tumor, and quickly ran out of options.

"Everywhere we went, every neurosurgeon was telling us, 'I'm sorry. Your tumor is inoperable. You have maybe two to four years to live. We can do chemo, but that's all we can do,'" Harrold said. "But we came to USC and the neurosurgeon was like, 'Yeah, let's do it.'"

Erica had a successful surgery and recovery, which helped propel Josh to be part of the good news that doctors deliver to patients.

The need for organ donors is overwhelming. More than 105,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list, with a new one added every 10 minutes.

While 90% of people support organ donation, only about 50% have signed up.

"Whether it's just checking that donor box on your driver's license, or giving blood... You don't have to go to the extremes that I'm going to, but anybody can be a hero," Harrold said.

The gift of time, as someone is running out of it, takes little more than a full heart.