Woman blessed by the kindness of stranger as firefighter offers healthy liver for transplant
Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) - Scarlet Lutz of Chapin is a woman who has a spirit and faith that’s unshakable. When she talks, you feel an excitement that flows through her voice. During a recent conversation, she excitedly describes God’s love for her and her family as an appropriate part of what we were discussing. It’s not off-putting. She doesn’t bible thump or press her faith on you, but as you talk, you catch small references to Him and His works. Scarlet has earned the right to tell her story and to offer thanks where thanks are due. Six years ago, at age 29, Scarlet, received the news no one should have to hear; She was diagnosed with cancer. In fact, Scarlet was diagnosed with Stage Four Colon Cancer.
It doesn’t take long to realize Scarlet isn’t going down without a fight! For the past six years, she’s done chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and every other cancer treatment known to modern doctors. Still, her cancer spread to her liver which was more bad news. The cancer took up residency in her liver, and it intended to stay. Doctors told Scarlet and her family that there were just too many spots in too many places to remove. Her liver couldn’t be saved by surgical intervention.
As the mother of a 13-year-old son and a happy wife, there was so much for her to be here for. Scarlet had exhausted all of her options, and still she was losing her cancer fight. She and her family still carefully researched every new treatment option, but for the most part, it looked as if fate would have the last say in her life.
One day, Scarlet learned of a new, experimental treatment. Doctors had done liver transplants for years for patients suffering from diseases such as cirrhosis. They just don’t normally do these for those who have these aggressive types of cancers. “Doing this surgery is unheard of at this point,” Scarlet said. “Only five of these have been done in the United States,” Scarlet explained. “I will be the second person with this specific cancer that has had this procedure done in the US.” The reason for the transplant list is sobering. “Because this is experimental and the survivability rate is just being recognized and calculated, doctors don’t want to have a bad outcome. They could waste a good, healthy, transplantable liver in someone who might still easily die from the cancer.”
Scarlet needed a partial liver transplant from a living donor. That person also needed to be the same blood type as Scarlet and meet several other requirements. She had to find donors who were healthy and willing to be tested. Then that donor could go through this dangerous procedure and give Scarlet part of their liver. That person would also need to be out of work for six-months.
Scarlet had a large family that were all tested. After no liver donor was found there, she put her problem on social media hoping that she’d elicit prayer if nothing else. Remarkably, Scarlet’s Facebook post was shared over 70,000 times in two hours as it went viral. More people offered to get tested and eventually, Scarlet was told a match had been found.
Normally, to prevent emotional stress or ethical questions, donors and recipients are kept separate. At the transplant facility in Rochester, New York, that was the way it was planned with her donor. She wouldn’t know who gave and the donor wouldn’t know who received. Still, God seemed to intervene again. While in the cafeteria of the transplant facility in Rochester, New York, a man walked up to Scarlet’s table, put his hand on her shoulder and said, “Fancy meeting you here.” It was her liver donor, somehow, they’d found each other!
Her good Samaritan is a City of Columbia firefighter. Chastain “Chaz” Cannon is a father and family man. Coincidentally, he works with Scarlet’s brothers who also fights fire in Columbia.
Remember, after the surgery, Chaz will be out of work six-months. To help carry his family through, firefighters and friends have been raising money. There’s also been a “leave bank” established by the city. Firefighters will be able to share his shifts on a volunteer basis.
Now both donor and recipient are preparing to go to New York for the procedure, “This is all so fresh and new,” Scarlet said. “We are going to change the way that cancer is treated in the future.”
It took over a year for Scarlet to be seen at Sloan Kettering, another noted cancer research hospital. Scarlet eventually got an appointment there in March of 2019. Their doctors said they couldn’t help Scarlet but told her about the Rochester program and she was accepted. Within two-hours between her social media post and the 70,000 SHARES mark, Chaz saw the post and offered to make this lifesaving gift to someone he’s never met.
Surgery will happen on October 30th. Scarlet and her family will be in New York for two months. Chaz will have to be there for a month or more. This is expensive and everyone knows it. Family and friends of Scarlet and Chaz have been working hard to raise money to cover Chaz and his family while he’s out of work. They’ve started a GoFundMe, sold T-shirts, and are now selling spaghetti plates this Saturday. The full meals are just $10.00 at the UNA club on Oak Street in South Congaree. Silly SnoBalls will be set up and there will be games and things for the children to do. Serving will start at 2:00 p.m. and will continue until 7:00 p.m. You can even set up a delivery for a large group. All the proceeds will go to Chaz and his family.
If you would like to help, contact Scarlet Lutz by phone at (803) 413-1110. Perhaps you can be a true hero too.