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Two La Salle University Seniors Saved by Transplants Graduate

May 21, 2019

Kevin Brighter ’19 and Jake Hafer ’19 Advocate for More Organ Donors 

Philadelphia, PAHundreds of students will come together this spring to celebrate the completion of their college careers at La Salle University’s undergraduate graduation ceremony. Two of them wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to college, let alone walk across the stage and accept their diplomas, without receiving the gift of life through an organ transplant.

Jake Hafer was born with a “broken heart” on Valentine’s Day in 1996

He was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare heart defect that resulted in him needing a transplant. The Douglassville, PA native was put on the transplant list, and at just seven and a half months old, he received a life-saving heart transplant at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

Jake and his family are passionate about telling their story, and serving as active volunteers with Gift of Life Donor Program.

“I’m going to do all that I can to show people that transplantation works and that they have the power to register and save lives – just like my donor did for me,” said Jake.

Jake will be graduating from La Salle University with a B.A. in History and a minor in Political Science.

Kevin Brighter was born with life-threatening kidney disease

 Both of his parents were a match, and at just 2 years old, the Bucks County resident received a kidney from his father at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But 17 years after that initial transplant, the family knew something was wrong when the then La Salle junior began to experience significant swelling. Kevin had to go on dialysis because his kidney was failing. Unfortunately, his mother Maura was no longer a match for her son, so they looked into other options.

Kevin received a kidney November 2017 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Soon after Kevin’s mother donated her kidney to someone she never met as part of a paired kidney exchange program to save her son Kevin’s life.

“There are no words to put together to explain what a transplant means, the best way for me to show others is to live my life to the fullest each day and to try and give back to the community who has helped me so much. I remain thankful each day for the gift of good health,” said Kevin.

Kevin will be graduating from La Salle University with a B.S. in Integrated Science Business and Technology.

Both Jake and Kevin were recipients of the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship goes toward giving young transplant recipients a chance for a higher education.

Interviews Available

Jake and Kevin are available to participate in interviews in advance of graduation day May 12. Both recipients can discuss the importance of organ donation and how their personal experiences have helped provide them with strength, perseverance and a great appreciation for life.

Gift of Life Donor Program

Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally-designated organ procurement organization, serving 11.2 million people across Delaware, southern New Jersey and the eastern half of Pennsylvania. Its annual donation rate ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 47,000 life-saving organs for transplant, and approximately one million tissue transplants have results from the generosity of donors and their families. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can improve the lives of more than 75 others. For more information or to register, visit our website.