One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

by Abby Totten, Student Public Relations Writer

Deep Calls for Life, a student-led campaign at Cedarville University, is taking drastic measures to help Dr. Chuck Elliott, senior professor of communication, find a kidney donor. This campaign not only demonstrates a deep love and support for the students’ beloved professor, but also to address the need for organ donation.

Elliott’s need for a donated kidney stems back to his 20-year teaching career at Hong Kong Baptist University in the British Crown Colony. Teaching there was a dream come true for the Cedarville professor, but life there was stressful, and he began suffering from debilitating headaches. Attributing the headaches to stress, Elliott’s doctor didn’t see the true source of the problem — damage to his kidneys due to untreated high blood pressure over several years.

Elliott and his family returned to the United States in 2003 to try to maintain the limited function of his kidneys. This strategy worked for 19 years.

In the fall of 2021, Elliott’s kidney function began to deteriorate at an alarming rate, resulting in an urgent need for him to be placed on the kidney transplant list. His kidneys failed in May 2022, resulting in Elliott experiencing nausea, chills and a lack of appetite.

His failing medical health caused his doctors to recommend Elliott to begin dialysis.

Dialysis is not easy. Each night, Elliott connects to a machine for 8 ½ hours as it fills his peritoneal cavity with a fluid that absorbs the toxins that his kidneys are no longer eliminating. This is the state of Elliott’s life until he receives a kidney transplant.

“The hardest part of this whole thing has not been the physical aspect, while that has been difficult. Ironically it has been the communication problem that I was just stumped on what to do,” said Elliott. “All of my doctors have put a great deal of pressure on me to be very proactive in trying to find a living donor. For me, that is the most impossible side of this. I don’t have it in me to ask someone for something that significant.”

The Deep Calls for Life campaign is doing for Elliott what he feels is impossible to do himself.

“First and foremost, our goal is to find a kidney and live donor for Dr. Elliott,” said Chloe Largent, a senior marketing major from Centreville, Maryland. “But we also want to be an advocate for organ donors because we see how vital organ donation is to many people.”

In the first 30 days, the group’s Instagram page has reached 1,400 accounts and received messages from individuals seeking to find out if they would be a good kidney match for Elliott. Students, past and present, have rallied support for Elliott in the comment sections.

“Being part of this project has given me a glimpse into an area of hurt that isn't common to talk about,” said Sarah Force, a senior communication and worship major from Springfield, Pennsylvania. “I didn’t really understand the struggle of waiting for an organ and what that looks like. I’ll be advocating for organ donorship well past this project.”

The students who are part of Deep Calls for Life aren’t the only ones advocating for Elliott. The university’s faculty and staff were notified earlier this year about the need for a kidney donation of an unidentified faculty member, which is Elliott. Some faculty members pursued the idea, but no perfect match has been identified.

Also, a project for the advocacy class taught by Professor Heather Heritage is pursuing ways to assist Elliott in his quest for a donated kidney. Laura King, a junior majoring in communication from Dublin, Ohio, is leading the effort of advocating for a kidney donation for her professor.

Elliott and his wife have discussed how they want something good to come out of this difficult experience.

“In sharing the hard times, people also get to share the good. When the kidney happens, it’s not a victory through me, it’s a victory through God,” said Elliott. “I have a group of people that are standing with me and get to share in the joyous conclusion of how God is going to bring this all together. And – there's a great communication lesson there. We get to practice what we talk about and now it becomes saving somebody’s life. It’s a pretty powerful thing.”

To find out more information about Elliott and his story, visit the Deep Calls for Life Instagram page. If you feel moved to see if you are a match to donate a kidney, contact Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center at wexnermedical.osu.edu/KidneyDonor or by phone: 800 293-8965 Option 3.

About Deep Calls for Life:

Deep Calls for Life is a student-initiated campaign from Professor Derrick Green’s Virtual Communication class. Students who are participating with Largent and Force are Madelyn Robey, a senior from West Chester, Ohio who is majoring in marketing; Janessa Colburn, a senior communication major from Damascus, Oregon, Hannah Kuntz, a sophomore communication major from Liberty Township, Ohio and Haley Thompson, a senior broadcasting major from Ruskin, Florida.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,082 undergraduate, graduate, and dual enrolled high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and the #4 national ranking by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.

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