JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Valentine’s Day is a day we show love, but it’s also National Donor Day.
A 65-year-old Jacksonville man who is in need of two organ transplants spoke with News4Jax on Sunday about the importance of National Donor Day.
“To heighten awareness. On your driver’s license, there’s a box to check to say you want to be a donor. What you’re doing is offering someone that is in need of organs a chance to assume a regular life,” Chuck Vaughn said.
News4Jax first met Vaughn, who’s better known as the balloon man, in 2019. He has a hot air balloon business and has spent most of his life flying over Jacksonville
Now, Vaughn is in need of a different kind of lift. In November 2019, he was in need of a kidney because he had stage 5 kidney failure. Vaughn said that after News4Jax’s initial story, he had several people who were willing to donate reach out, but since then, he has experienced another setback. Vaughn said his doctors told him he doesn’t have enough intestines to support the kidney transplant.
“Like I said, somebody has to pass away to do this, for me to be able to receive the intestinal, it’s called a multivesicular transplant, because you’re doing more than one organ. I need intestines,” he said. “In the meantime, when they have me opened up, they’re going to stick a kidney in there too.”
Vaughn said he has experienced medical issues since he was 14 years old. Ten years later, in October 1979, he had his first surgery.
“Halloween, I had my first surgery. I had my first ostomy,” he said.
Vaughn said he’s learned to live and fight to stay alive.
“It either controls you, or you control it, to the extent you can,” he said. “If you sit down, you’re going to be part of the furniture. You’ve got to get up.”