Ryan Arnold knew there were risks, most notably the possiblity of death. But when he found out he was a match to his ailing older brother Chad, he didn’t hesitate to offer part of his liver in heroic, life-saving fashion.
On July 29, 2010, Ryan, 34, went through the complex procedure at The University of Colorado Hospital. He had traveled from Watertown, South Dakota, to take part in the live donor program that was necessary to rid Chad, a 38-year old resident of Castle Rock, Colo., of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a liver disease that causes itching, fatigue, jaundice and ultimately liver failure.
“You know, I love Chad,” Ryan told KDVR News just prior to the surgery. “He's my brother and he's got a lot of life left to live. I'm healthy and I know I'll stay healthy. I'll recover and I want to see him do the things he wants to do, and spend time with his family, and I want to have him around for a long time.”
As Chad was making a full recovery, Ryan took an unexpected turn for the worse. On July 31, he went into cardiac arrest, fell into a coma and was place on life support. Two days later, Ryan died. It was the first living liver donor death in the state of Colorado and only the fourth such tragedy in the United States.
Ryan Arnold has been nominated for Beliefnet’s 2010 Most Inspirational Person of the Year for his fearless gift of love. He was the husband of wife Shannon and father three boys, ages one, four and six.
“This is a story about a man who is deeply convicted by his faith and because of that, what he did for me was just sort of a normal thing that he did for people,” Chad said. “Ryan is the hero in this. Ryan gave without hesitation. It's the ultimate sacrifice, but he'd do it again.”