Michigan firefighter saves captain’s life with liver donation

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. — When Dale Beauchamp went to the doctor office in November 2018 to check on his liver, he was told it wasn’t doing well. Doctors told him it was failing and he needed a live liver transplant soon.

“My wife and I was kind of at a loss,” said Bauechamp, who was diagnosed with liver disease two years ago.

The fire captain and his wife thought to themselves, “‘Okay, what do we do now.’”

That day, Beauchamp was sent home with live liver transplant information, which he gave to his children, he said. His kids then turned it into a flyer, looking for donors - and his daughter, Nicole, posted it on Facebook. That’s where Lt. Doug McLiechey saw it.

“I was on Facebook actually, and his daughter had posted a pamphlet about the live liver donor process,” McLiechey said. “So, I contacted her and [said] ‘Where do I sign up.’”

At that time in mid-December, McLiechey didn’t know if he was a match, he said. He just wanted to help his boss. He considered the Comstock Fire and Rescue department to be family.

“We’re very close,” he said. “Most firemen are, but this department - we’re pretty close with each other. So, it wasn’t really a question.”

Immediately, McLiechey went to his own doctor for blood tests. Once he found out his blood type was the same as Beauchamp's, he knew he was a match. However, he did not tell him.

“I assumed Dale was going to be [like] ‘Nope, you’re not doing it,’” he said with a smile. “‘Nope, you can’t take that much time off' or 'It’s too dangerous.' So, Nicole and I talked back and forth [and] made contact with [the University of Michigan Ann Arbor].”

McLiechey said Michigan's initial process was a general health questionnaire. Then, unbeknownst to Beauchamp, he spent a day out at the school undergoing a medical evaluation, which included blood testing. After that, he told Beauchamp.

“It’s emotional for sure,” he said about the conversation. “Once I see him, and then I kind of tear up a little bit. But, I don’t think of it as important as he does obviously. I’m just honored to help.”

McLiechey said their surgery is scheduled for Wednesday at the university. He said the surgery is unique in that the doctors will only take part of his liver and plant it in Beauchamp’s body. After that, McLiechey's liver will begin to re-grow on its own.

“My liver grows back,” he said. “I’m healthy. I’m good. With Dale, it’s a life or death situation.”

Getting a transplant can be difficult, Beauchamp said. Not everyone on the list survives to receive one. However, he's grateful McLiechey "stepped up" to help him.

“Without him, I know where I’d end up going,” he said. “But, he saved my life. He’s, he’s my hero.”

The Comstock Firefighters Association created a fundraiser to help both McLiechey and Beauchamp with external costs that insurance won't cover.

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