In the words of his wife, Candice, the late Chris Sauerwein was a true hero.
Because after his passing, Chris gave hope and new life to four others through the work of CORE — the Center for Organ Replacement & Education. His last heroic act was to donate to those in need.
On July 4, 2020, the 35-year-old from Coalton was in an auto accident near Canonsburg, Pa.
When his wife received the phone call, she was told her husband was in very critical condition and he was life-flighted to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.
“I was told to get there as quick as possible. I had my son and daughter in the car as we rushed to Pittsburgh. I was thinking this is not possible,” Candice said, “I told the children that we are going to pray that he is going to be alright.”
When they arrived at the hospital, Candice was told the unbearable news. Chris had suffered a serious brain injury, and, unfortunately, nothing else could be done.
“We spent time with him while we waited for tests to be completed. We prayed and poured out our hearts to him. You don’t want to believe it is real,” Candice recalled. “Soon, the doctor came to us. I will never forget the doctor’s voice. She told us that my husband had suffered brain death.”
The family met with Elissa McQuillan from CORE. Candice said she was so empathetic that before McQuillan asked the question, Candice knew what she was going to request.
“I cut her off in mid-sentence and said the answer is ‘Yes.’ We will donate his organs,” she said.
Chris and Candice had spoken about organ donation before his passing. Chris told his wife that if there was anything that could be done to prevent another family from feeling pain and sadness, he wanted to help them.
“After his passing, CORE did so many things to help us cherish him. Elissa recorded my husband’s heartbeat; she printed off EKGs strips; and she made molds of his handprints. They gave us a blanket, which my daughter has slept with every single night since she received it. She has received so much comfort from that blanket,” Candice said.
Candice even became a CORE volunteer and made a blanket with her daughter for another family.
“With organ donation, my husband saved four people. He was able to give them the great gift of life. I am in contact with one of those recipients, and it is like talking to a little piece of my husband. He reminds me that my husband is a hero. In this tragedy, you gain hope and you gain a new best friend. It keeps us connected to my husband. I find comfort in knowing that is what he would want. He provided life for four other people. Our hero is living on. Organ donation gave him a beautiful legacy of life — this champ is still here,” Candice said.
The hospitals of the Mon Health System collaborate with CORE to provide hope for organ recipients and make a difference every day in patients’ lives.
Mon Health encourages the public to find out more about donating life. For more information or to register as an organ donor, visit http://www.core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.