One year after his death, teenager's legacy forever strong

Published: Thursday, Aug. 25 2011 6:56 p.m. MDT

Marlee Dalton, whose life was saved after she received a pancreas and a kidney from Brandon Curtis, stands outside her home in Erda on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A year ago Springville High School football player Brandon Curtis died from injuries he suffered in an accident. His family says while dealing with his death has been difficult, they say that his giving in life and in death that has inspired them.

The 18-year-old was an organ donor and his wishes were honored. Six people received his organs. Marlee Dalton, a family nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife, was one of them. She received a pancreas and a kidney.

"He saved my life,” she said. “He saved my mortal life, and I thank him and his family and pray for them daily, and there is no doubt in my mind that what he did unselfishly, in giving of his organs, is the reason that I am here today."

Curtis died on July 28, 2010, from injuries suffered a day earlier in a rollover accident in the Springville High School parking lot following football practice. Three other members of the Red Devils' football team were injured in the accident.

Dalton recalled the day she was in the hospital waiting for organ transplants.

"When I closed my eyes, I saw this young man, just as clear as day, but it kind of frightened me a little bit that I would see something,” she said. “I opened my eyes, closed them again, and he was gone.”

She said it was a little bit later that she knew the young man who donated his kidney and pancreas that saved her was Brandon Curtis.

Friends and family say Brandon was a kind and giving person who would give the shirt off his back.

“The gift that he gave, the gift of life, to others is just awesome, just really neat,” Jesse Curtis said.

“It’s just been a blessing to know your son lives on,” Dianne Curtis said.

Dianne believes the day she met the Daltons was a miracle. The Daltons walked into the Reams grocery store looking for information on where Brandon Curtis was buried. A checker told them Brandon’s mother worked at the store and they could ask her. Dianne Curtis remembers someone coming up to her and asking if they could talk.

“She said, ‘a year ago today, I received a kidney and a pancreas from your son.’ Of course, I was stunned,” Dianne Curtis said holding back tears.

She said the Daltons were as surprised as she was to meet. “There’s no way they would find us,” Dianne Curtis said. That’s because donor-transplant information is kept confidential.

“I was able to express my love to her, but I never set out to find her that day,” Dalton said. “It was a gravesite, but I know I was never meant to find him. I was meant to find her.”

That same day, the family received a card from the heart recipient. The family was also able to help a little boy in Centerville who needed a kidney.

Brandon touched many more than the six individuals who got his organs, Dalton said, “It has brought communities and families and friends closer together, and what he did should never be forgotten.”

To keep Brandon’s legacy going, the Curtis family created the Brandon Curtis Forever Young Foundation. Its goal is to raise money for scholarships for students at Springville and Mapleton high school. To help fund the scholarships, the foundation is holding the Brandon Curtis 5K/Walk on Saturday beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Hobble Creek Park (1250 S. 2200 East) in Springville. A kids fun run is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m. For more information go to www.brandoncurtis.org/home.html. 

For more information on organ donation, visit www.yesutah.org.

E-mail: vvo-duc@ksl.com

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