Boy gets lifesaving gift from unexpected source

By Roger Weber - Reporter

DETROIT - Owen Densmore is a happy and healthy 4-year-old. But it wasn't always that way.

Before he was born, doctors discovered he was missing his left kidney. And his right kidney was only functioning at 5 percent.

After he was born, Owen's parents and doctors used medication, a restricted diet and plenty of fluids to keep him alive as they waited for a transplant.

His parents, Heidi and Slater, were tested to see if they were a match. Slater Densmore wasn't, but his wife was.

The family was prepared for the transplant surgery last year, but things didn't go according to plan.

"Accidents happen, and I became pregnant," Heidi Densmore said.

While the family grappled with trying to figure out how to ask someone to be a donor, they got a phone call.

Brandon Brigulio was on the other end of the line, and offered up to be tested to see if he was a match for Owen.

Brigulio is a first-grade teacher at Susick Elementary in Troy. He had taught Owen's brother, Elliot, and heard about the family's medical crisis through another teacher.

"I just felt like it was the right thing to do," Brigulio said.

His motivation to help?

"Well, I'm a very religious person and God just placed it in my heart," Brigulio said.

Tests confirmed that Brigulio was a match. The transplant surgery was done at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, which has the state's largest pediatric kidney disease program.

"We had this God-sent human being who demonstrated the ultimate human generosity by donating him a kidney, and that happened to be his teacher," said Dr. Tej J. Mattoo, chief of pediatric nephrology at Children's Hospital.  

Eleven weeks after the surgery, both Owen and Brigulio are doing well.

"But after doing everything, I would do it again. And if I can encourage one person that's hindering, making that decision to say, ‘Yes, I'll donate this bone marrow, or give blood or donate a kidney,' that would make all the difference in the world," Brigulio said.

Click here to join the Michigan organ donor registry.

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