Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 23 – Brent’s Battle

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Brent Shyrock over email. It was about the friendliest exchange anyone could expect from a stranger. Brent shared his story with me and detailed his great appreciation for life since receiving a lung transplant. Brent and his friend Laura helped us out with our inaugural Campus Challenge last year by helping to register members of the Illinois Central College community.

I asked Laura to share Brent’s story with us as part of our Illinois Donor Diaries. Please check out the entry below.




Several years ago a remarkable person entered my life, Brent Shryock. During our friendship, I learned so much from him. Brent was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), when he was a child. I learned about all the struggles he and his family had. Taking labs and making periodic visits to the doctors and hospitals were expected for the rest of his life. At age 22, Brent had a bilateral lung transplant. Through the hopes and prayers of his family and friends, the transplant was successful.

Over the next year, Brent was doing things he had never dreamed of.  He could finally breathe without a machine. During our time together, we were doing something new everyday. We had so many great adventures from going to Six Flags St. Louis to visiting the local parks and zoos.

In October 2007, Brent was having complications and returned to the hospital where he had his transplant.  Initially the doctors thought he had pneumonia, but his health quickly declined. Brent’s mother and I took turns keeping him company during his long hospital stay. Seeing his health worsen was very devastating; so many thoughts went through my mind, especially that of helplessness. His body was rejecting his new lungs and he was put back on the transplant waiting list. Soon enough, Brent became unconscious and didn’t realize his life was depending on another transplant.

I wasn’t there through his first transplant but I was going to stay by his side through the second. Weeks went by; his body would get worse and then better, yet no matches. It came to the point where all of Brent’s other organs were deteriorating. We were going to lose him. His mother told me they were going to call up the family to say their goodbyes before they let him go. It was the worst news to hear because he was such a strong man and I seriously thought that he would pull through. The family came in to speak to him; I watched his pulse go down to zero. He was gone.

Even though Brent’s body ultimately rejected the new lungs, the transplant saved his life. During the year that he had his new lungs; Brent accepted his faith and was able to experience what true love really is. Experiencing life with Brent also changed my life for the better. He led me into the right direction and there is not one day that goes by without thinking of him and the impact he has had in my life. While I wish another donor would have come at the right time for Brent, I know that he is still with me in spirit.

We can all make a difference in helping people like Brent that are in need of a second chance at life. Register to be an organ donor today and change someone’s life!

Laura Finney
Peoria, Ill.


4 Responses to Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 23 – Brent’s Battle

  1. Colette says:

    God Bless you Laura, Brent’s family and many friends…Brent was truly blessed to have known so many beautiful people during his life. Stories like these give me a greater appreciation of the fleeting time we all have on this earth.

  2. Cassie says:

    aww! i miss Brent 😦 i miss talking to him all the time about our illiness and what we are going through. that was sweet of u to post his story and what he went through… i was soo worried when he had his first transplant but we kept in touch through text message to let me know he was okay… its a shame to hear he past away…

  3. Sarah Morris says:

    Thank you for sharing this story with all of us… Our co founder is going on his second year with his new lungs!!! One of the biggest parts of Breathe 4 Tomorrow Foundation is Organ Donation Awareness… It an amazing gift to gift someone life… I sit here tonight, wishing I had met Brent, I feel so fortunate to have as many friends in our CF community as I do… I love all their stories and learn from them all…
    Once again, thank you Laura for sharing your story and thank you Scott as well…

  4. Scott says:

    Absolutely, thanks for stopping by Sarah. Great organization you’ve got going. I’ve added you all to our resourceful sites section. Cheers to the Pacific NW, I grew up out near Seattle. Keep up the great work!

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