Molly's Trail Coming to Missouri
Posted July 24, 2013 in Donor Family News
Corey Eaker was at his wife’s memorial service in June of 2013 when the ideas started coming to him on how to share Molly Pearce-Eaker’s story and legacy. It started with his friend, Bob, suggesting a road trip to clear his head and take some time away. Then Corey’s father-in-law suggested wrapping the car in the Donate Life brand and images of Molly.
The idea has become a three-week road trip with invitations to speak at 10 events throughout the nation. “We just decided we were going to try to spread the word about organ donation, share her story,” said Corey, who was born in Cape Girardeau before his family moved to LA when he was 4. “My goal is to try to make sure no one else has to go through what I’m going through.”
With stops in California, Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Washington and two in Missouri – at the Leopold Picnic in Leopold and Gordonville Grill in Gordonville on July 27 and 28 – Corey and Bob are covering a large portion of the country with the wrapped car, and meeting many people. The stop in Ohio is at EST Fest, a two-day music festival hosted by rapper Machine Gun Kelly, who has invited Corey to speak during his show. “He wanted to come see her, but it didn’t work out,” said Corey, who plans to return to school this fall to continue his geography studies at Cal State-Northridge. “When he found out what we were doing, he invited us to join a festival in August.”
The entire trip will be recorded. Upon returning to LA, Corey and Molly’s friends plan to create a movie about the trip, with interviews from people nationwide. Any proceeds from the trip will support the Molly Pearce-Eaker Foundation, which was formed to educate about organ and tissue donation and provide financial assistance to loved ones of patients waiting for the Gift of Life.
“I knew I was going to marry her.”
Corey first spotted Molly while taking a communications class at a college in Santa Monica, California. “I looked at her, and I knew I had to meet this girl,” Corey said. “It was right away, head-over-heels.”
Getting to LA had its challenges for Molly. At 16 years old in 2005, Molly learned she needed a small bowel transplant. She was born in 1988 with Hirschsprung’s Disease, a condition in which the small and large bowel are formed without nerve cells requiring an ostomy and the removal of the intestines. The medications she was prescribed as a child were also affecting her kidney function.
After waiting about 30 days, she received an intestine transplant at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). While the surgery was a success and Molly recovered quickly, doctors discovered over the next year that her kidneys were failing.
Her mother, Melisa, was Molly’s living kidney donor in 2007. This transplant allowed Molly to relocate to Los Angeles and live near her friend Lauran, a dream come true. It’s where she met Corey. “I knew the first month I met her that I was going to marry her,” Corey said. “But she wanted me to finish school, and she wanted to be healthy.”
Corey and Molly participated in many Donate Life events in the Los Angeles area to raise awareness. But in 2011, Molly was admitted to the UCLA Transplant Center with sudden renal failure. An asymptomatic urine infection attacked her transplant kidney, and doctors believed her organs were beginning a failure cascade. Several weeks later, she was released when doctors believed her kidney had recovered. However, in September of 2011, doctors determined she would need another kidney transplant. She moved back to Colorado with her mother and began dialysis treatments.
A few months later, Corey followed her to Colorado to be with her and support her.
The family found another living donor kidney match after several friends were tested. But the same week the family learned of the match, doctors discovered her bowel was suffering from the trauma of the renal failure and dialysis. It would need to be removed. In the fall of 2012, Molly returned to the UNMC’s ICU with a blood infection. She stayed in the hospital as doctors discovered she would need to be listed as a multi-visceral transplant candidate, needing four organs: kidney, pancreas, liver and bowel.
She spent 228 days on the fifth floor of the UNMC.
On May 29, 2013, Molly’s liver failed. As Molly’s family and Corey rushed to the hospital, doctors determined she no longer qualified for transplant. She was removed from the transplant list. The fifth floor staff at UNMC – which Molly’s family calls “the Fabulous Fifth Floor” – offered to plan a wedding for Corey and Molly. On June 1, 2013, Molly and Corey were married during a ceremony and celebration at the hospital. “The staff was amazing. They put on a wedding in less than 24 hours, decorated the whole floor and got her a dress. Everybody was there, piling into the hallway. It was a special moment for us.”
She passed away in Corey’s arms at 1:11 a.m., June 4, 2013.