Family and friends of Chase Ashley and the Ashley family get ready to release balloons. Photo/Courtesy
By Brody Feldmann
Lub-DUB, lub-DUB, that is the sound Chase Ashley’s heart makes inside of Brian Deuster’s chest 10 years after he received the 19-year-old’s heart.
Ten years ago, Deuster was told that he had two weeks to live.
“It has been 10 years of healthiness and getting along fine,” Deuster said. “I have been nothing but healthy in the 10 years. Other than a little bronchitis or something like that, I’ve had no problems.”
Just days after being given that ominous news Deuster was in surgery for a heart transplant not knowing the situation of how he was receiving a heart. He wrote a letter and asked the doctors to it to the donor’s family. That is how he came in touch with the Ashley family.
“I feel grateful that I got to meet the Ashley’s,” Duester said.
The loss of Ashley was a tragic situation for the family, but being able to listen to his heart today and hear all of the stories that Deuster can tell because of the heart is amazing.
Every year, friends and family gather at the Mustang baseball field to honor Ashley in a short memorial with releasing of balloons and storytelling. But, this year was even more special because it was Year 10.
Deuster makes it to the celebration at the baseball field every year that he can, so everyone can listen to the heartbeat of the healthy heart.
Thanks to the decision of Ashley deciding to be a donor Deuster was able to meet his grandkids and was able to take them hiking and fishing. Those were things he never thought he would be able to do 10-years ago.
“I have five grandkids that keep me busy, and I get to enjoy. Three were born after the transplant so I wouldn’t have even known them,” Deuster said. “I consider all of that a blessing in my life that I get to experience.”
Carolyn Allison of Ardmore was the recipient of Ashley’s kidney 10 years ago, and that kidney has helped her battle through some tough times. Allison sent a letter to the organ family 10 years ago and has been in touch with the Ashley family ever since.
“It has been perfect. They tell me that it is doing great. We have faith, and Chase had a good kidney. He was so generous to be a donor at such a young age,” Allison said.
Last year, Allison, 67. was in the hospital for three months due to a bad case of pneumonia. She was on a ventilator for six weeks and had to learn how to do everyday tasks such as walk and eat again.
During her time in the hospital, Ashley’s mother, Debbie, took the trip to the hospital to see her.
Allison says that when Debbie walked into the room she instantly had the power to work through the situation. And in true Debbie fashion, she came bearing gifts.
The two women sat around talking and lifting each other up for the next few hours.
Since, that stay in the hospital Allison has not had any more serious cases of illness, but she still battles allergies.
Allison had a virus over the weekend, so she was not able to make the trip to Mustang to be at the baseball field this year.
“I hated that I didn’t get to come, especially with it being 10 years,” Allison said.
She plans on making a trip to Mustang to see the Ashley family soon.
Chase Ashley was a 2007 Mustang graduate and a standout baseball player who went on to play baseball at Rose State.
“I just feel blessed to be able to carry on part of Chase on this earth,” said Allison.