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Beall speaks on importance of organ donation at Troy University

If a pin had dropped in the Claudia Crosby Theater Wednesday evening, it would have been heard.

The audience, a mix of university students and community members, was absorbed in the moment. They had come to hear a message of faith, of hope, of courage and the miracle of a second chance at life.

Katie Hawkins Beall is an organ recipient. The man, whose liver saved her life, died with a needle in his arm. But his liver was perfect as were other life-saving organs in his body.

“I don’t know who the young man was,” Beall said. “I do know that he put a needle in his arm and never knew anything else. I choose to believe he was a good man who happened to make bad decisions.”

Beall has not heard from the family of the man who, in death, saved her life. “I would like to be a part of his family because he is now a part of me,” she said.

Beall is the daughter of Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins and First Lady Janice Hawkins. She came home to Troy to talk with students at her alma maters, Troy University and Charles Henderson High School, and community members about the importance of being an organ donor, about the lives that are saved by organ donors and about those who die waiting because no matches could be found.

“One donor can save up to eight lives,” Beall said. “Eighteen people die each day awaiting an organ and 120,000 people are now awaiting life-saving organ transplants.”

Beall knows what it’s like to be one who is awaiting a life-saving transplant. She knows what it’s like to be dying and to know that, to live, someone else has to die.

For Beall it all happened so quickly.

She had not been feeling well and was actually on a field trip with her daughter when she became violently ill. In a short time, the virus had invaded her entire body and she was given a narrow chance of survival. That narrow chance became almost no chance as her heart, kidneys and liver began to fail.

Dialysis and the miracle of prayer kept her alive while she waited for a gift that would be her chance to live, maybe her only chance. But Beall was facing a difficult challenge. She had to stay strong enough to undergo a transplant if an organ match could be found for her liver.

As she waited, her chance of survival lessened.

“I wanted to live but, I knew for me to live, someone had to die,” she said. “I was scared but I never felt alone.”

Lying there surrounded by hospital sounds and knowing that her life was slowly slipping away, Beall said, if it came to that, she didn’t know how to say good-bye.”

Beall remembers knowing that she dying. She remembers her mom being there with her. And, she remembers the doctor telling her mom that she was going to die.

“The doctor told Mom that my children should be allowed to come so I could say ‘goodbye’ to them,” Beall said. Mom was sitting at the end of the bed with her feet up and eating a bowl of ice cream. She looked out the window and said calmly, ‘No.’”

The doctor thought she didn’t understand or could not comprehend.

“No,” she said. “We’re not going to do that and kept eating ice cream.”

Again, Troy’s First Lady was told she was going to lose her daughter. Again, she said, “no.”

“Mom said, I was going to live,” Beall said. “She said, we were going to pray for a miracle and we were going to believe it. We were going to stand on it.”

Somewhere on a city street, a man stuck a needle in his arm.

Because someone, unknown then and now, made a decision for a man’s organs to be donated, Katie Hawkins Beall was given life.

The saddest day of that man’s life was the greatest day for Katie Hawkins Beall and her family. She prayed for his family; she prayed for them to have the comfort of God’s love.

On November 14, 2017, Beall woke up from organ transplant surgery feeling like she had been sliced in half.

“But I woke up,” she said with a smile.

Six days later, Katie Hawkins Beall went home for Thanksgiving.