butterflies are a sign that an organ donor is checking in on their recipient

The Magic of Butterflies

Steve woke up from his second liver transplant and told his family he would run the Marine Corp Marathon. Green, emaciated, and days from death before the surgery, it seemed unlikely.

There is a lot of talk of organ recipients taking on the traits of their donors. Suddenly loving classical music or developing a new interest in gardening. Once a very understated man, Steve became fascinated with wearing the color orange, and the former soccer dad was determined to run a marathon.

I met Steve when I was coaching and working in a running store. He seemed like a very serious runner. Unbeknownst to me, at the time, he couldn’t walk a block but left with 3 pairs of shoes and my card.

A few months later, his wife Diane contacted me. Steve and I started his training for the Marine Corp Marathon.

At first, we stayed near his house, but as he got stronger and more confident, we ranged farther and farther. Something of a legend in his town with a successful business and a heartbreaking story, people were shocked to see him out running on the trail. Some would tear up. Others would call his wife and report the hot girl running with Steve.

A story unfolded as we ran. Of a dad who was told when his kids were little to get his affairs in order and take them to Disneyland. Of a woman who never gave up and drove her husband to the hospital at rush hour in the breakdown lane to arrive before a donor's liver expired. And butterflies. We always saw butterflies.

Steve did run the Marine Corp Marathon, with his wife and children and some of his doctors cheering him on. Before the race, as he stood on the tarmac waiting for the race to start, terrified, a butterfly slowly made its way through the crowd and landed on his shoulder.


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