Cedarville communication students rally for professor in need of a new kidney

Elliott: “I don’t have it in me to ask someone for something that significant.”

CEDARVILLE — A group of students at Cedarville University have taken to social media to help one of their professors have a new chance at life.

The student group, called Deep Calls for Life, has the goal of helping Senior Communication Professor Chuck Elliott find a kidney donor, after his health began failing last year.

In the first 30 days, the group’s Instagram page reached 1,400 accounts and received messages from individuals seeking to find out if they would be a good kidney match for Elliott, according to the university.

“First and foremost, our goal is to find a kidney and live donor for Dr. Elliott,” said Chloe Largent, a senior marketing major from Centreville, Maryland. “But we also want to be an advocate for organ donors because we see how vital organ donation is to many people.”

Students also said their work has been enlightening, as they see the struggles that people in need of organ donation face.

“Being part of this project has given me a glimpse into an area of hurt that isn’t common to talk about,” said Sarah Force, a senior communication and worship major from Springfield, Pennsylvania. “I didn’t really understand the struggle of waiting for an organ and what that looks like. I’ll be advocating for organ donorship well past this project.”

The students have taken on a task for their professor that Elliott feels is impossible to do himself, he said.

“The hardest part of this whole thing has not been the physical aspect, while that has been difficult. Ironically it has been the communication problem that I was just stumped on what to do,” Elliott said. “All of my doctors have put a great deal of pressure on me to be very proactive in trying to find a living donor. For me, that is the most impossible side of this. I don’t have it in me to ask someone for something that significant.”

Elliott’s need for a donated kidney stems back to his 20-year teaching career at Hong Kong Baptist University in the former British Crown Colony, where he began suffering from debilitating headaches. Attributing the headaches to stress, the true source of the problem — high blood pressure — remained untreated for years, leading to permanent kidney damage.

In the fall of 2021, Elliott was placed on the kidney transplant list, and his kidneys failed in May 2022. As a result, doctors recommended Elliott begin dialysis, which he undergoes for eight hours every night.

Elliott and his wife have discussed how they want something good to come out of this difficult experience.

“In sharing the hard times, people also get to share the good. When the kidney happens, it’s not a victory through me, it’s a victory through God,” said Elliott. “I have a group of people that are standing with me and get to share in the joyous conclusion of how God is going to bring this all together. And, there’s a great communication lesson there. We get to practice what we talk about and now it becomes saving somebody’s life. It’s a pretty powerful thing.”

Some Cedarville faculty and staff members pursued the idea of being a match, but no match has been identified, the university said.

Students who are participating with Largent and Force are Madelyn Robey, a senior from West Chester who is majoring in marketing; Janessa Colburn, a senior communication major from Damascus, Oregon; Hannah Kuntz, a sophomore communication major from Liberty Township; and Haley Thompson, a senior broadcasting major from Ruskin, Florida. Other students, including Laura King, a junior majoring in communication from Dublin, are leading an advocacy effort for Elliot.

Potential kidney donors should contact the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center at wexnermedical.osu.edu/KidneyDonor or by phone: 800 293-8965 Option 3.

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