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Benefit for heart transplant recipient slated for Saturday

Supporters of Brainerd heart transplant recipient Brad Elshaug plan to highlight the need for organ donation during a benefit Saturday. Organizers originally planned the event to take place at Yesterday's Gone in Brainerd but decided to move it t...

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Brad Elshaug

Supporters of Brainerd heart transplant recipient Brad Elshaug plan to highlight the need for organ donation during a benefit Saturday.

Organizers originally planned the event to take place at Yesterday's Gone in Brainerd but decided to move it to a Baxter church in order to accommodate a larger projected turnout.

Elshaug spent nearly six months hospitalized due to complications from a genetic defect in his aorta before finally receiving a heart transplant in August.

Friend Rob Masters said Elshaug plans to be at the benefit, having recently been discharged from the hospital after dealing with complications from the surgery.

Another friend, Henry "Hank" Boileau of Brainerd, plans to speak at the benefit despite also being in recovery from serious illness.

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Boileau underwent a bone marrow transplant from an international donor about two months ago. Recovery from that and from chemotherapy was a hard struggle, he said.

"I had three days where I couldn't even get out of bed," he said.

Boileau said the key to getting through it was a positive attitude, with help from his wife.

"The nurses at the hospital said, 'Attitude is about 90 percent of recovery,'" he said. "My wife, she's a sweetheart. She's been taking care of me."

Boileau said the need for organ donation is highlighted by the fact he had to get a donor from overseas. If more people donated, then people like he and Elshaug wouldn't have to wait as long.

Also slated to speak about the need for organ and tissue donation is Brainerd resident Susan Schroer, whose brother Mike Lex of New York Mills became an organ donor when he passed away following an all-terrain vehicle crash in January of 2008.

Schroer recalled her brother as an avid outdoorsman and a selfless helper to his friends and neighbors. The day of his crash, he was out fishing for an elderly couple he knew.

"He always thought of others over himself," she said. "If you needed something, Mike always had it."

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Mike's organs were donated to people in North Dakota and Illinois. Schroer now tells Mike's story to driver's education classes, which she said helped her with her grief as she saw the positive effects. High school students now come up to Schroer's daughter, who also does the presentations, and proudly show off the 'organ donor' markings on their driver's licenses.

"The more I shared his story, the easier it got," she said. "That's the healing part, is seeing what's getting paid forward."

The benefit is 4-9 p.m. Sept. 12 at Heritage Assembly of God Church, 13242 Berrywood Drive, Baxter. It includes a pig roast as well as a silent auction and drawings.

ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser .

Related Topics: BRAINERD
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