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Iowa State softball pitcher raises awareness about organ donation

Nothing has stopped Chris from always supporting his daughter, Karlie – not distance or even the serious health issues he's been dealing with since she was young.

AMES, Iowa — After Karlie Charles strikes out a batter, her fans and teammates erupt with cheers – but the person likely cheering the loudest was back home in Texas. 

"He's the ultimate supporter for sure," Karlie said of her dad, Chris. 

Karlie considers Chris to be the ultimate softball dad. 

"He's kind of created his own community within the softball dads, so it's kind of funny," Karlie said. "He literally knows everybody."

Nothing has stopped him from always supporting Karlie, not distance or even the serious health issues he's been dealing with since she was young. 

"I was just one-year-old," Karlie said. "He had kidney failure and my uncle was blessed enough to give my father his kidney."

Doctors told Chris that the kidney probably wouldn't last him more than ten years. 

Miraculously, the kidney has lasted him over twice as long. However, Chris is still in need of a new kidney. 

Back in 2021, Karlie took to social media to share her dad's story. She was amazed at the response she got. 

"The first time I made the post, there was so many people like flooding everyone's DMs: my mom's DMs, my DMs, and in the post, I said I didn't really believe people out there on social media cared," Karlie said. "There was one woman, she DMed me and she just went and got tested."

Unfortunately, the woman wasn't a match, but Karlie and her family were grateful that she cared enough to try. 

Karlie plans to get tested once she finishes her softball career. 

"My dad won't allow me to get tested until I'm done playing but I told him when that time comes, if I need to make that sacrifice, then 100 percent down because like that's my best friend," Karlie said. 

Karlie's dad is one of more than 100 thousand people that are on the national transplant waiting list

When it comes to organ donation, there's two options: finding a living match or receiving a donation from a registered donor who has died. 

Heather Butterfield from the Iowa Donor Network says almost anyone can help save a life by registering to become an organ donor at iowadonornetwork.org

"Now when you do register as a donor through the Iowa Donor registry, that only goes into effect once someone passes away," Butterfield said. "If people are interested in learning more about potentially seeing if they can be a match for someone as a living donor, then they would want to contact a transplant center in their area. So here in Iowa, the University of Iowa has a transplant center, as well as Unity Point Methodist in Des Moines."

Another way to help is to spread the word about organ donation and the need for donors. 

Butterfield also said that about 80 percent of the people on the national transplant waiting list are in need of a kidney. For more information on organ and tissue donation, click here.

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