COLUMBUS, Ohio — A childhood picture of Stone Foltz dressed in a Superman costume hinted at the young man he would become.
“He has created a great legacy for himself, and he is truly my hero,” said Cory Foltz, Stone’s father.
Cory and his wife, Shari, say their son showed signs of being a truly caring person early on, especially when it came to looking after his younger siblings, AJ and Jersee.
So it came as little surprise that, as a teenager, he decided to become an organ donor.
“When he got his driver’s license, I had the conversation before we went,” Shari said. “He said 'absolutely' without any hesitation, and I said, 'you understand what that means,' and he said, 'yes,' and he said that, without a doubt, that was what he wanted to do.”
Of course, at the time, his parents had no idea how soon they would be reminded of the true impact of that decision.
Just a few years later, at age 20, Stone spent a night drinking at an off-campus fraternity party at Bowling Green State University as part of a hazing ritual.
He would end up in the hospital. And it soon would become clear that he would not survive.
“The pain was unimaginable,” Shari said. “You can’t even describe it. I mean, we’re in shock, we’re in trauma. I mean, we just took it minute by minute, literally.”
The parents credit Life Connection of Ohio with helping them through their tough decision to follow their son’s wishes.
“We didn’t have to give it a second thought,” Shari said. “We just knew that was what he wanted, and it was the right decision.”
But the path to organ donation wasn’t without its road bumps. At first, doctors did not believe Stone’s heart was functioning at a level that would make it suitable for donation.
But that changed, bringing some mixed feelings for the family.
“My personal feeling was, I’m okay with that because he gets to keep his heart,” Shari said. “But when they told us, it was like a different feeling of, he is going to be able to help someone by giving his heart, so it just completely flipped, emotions changed, and we were ecstatic that he was able to donate his heart.”
In the end, Stone was able to donate his right kidney to a teenage girl and his left kidney to a preteen girl. His liver went to a man in his 50s, and both lungs went to another man in his 50s. His corneas gave someone sight. His heart went to a woman in her 20s. And he was able to donate enough tissue to help more than 100 other people.
“At Stone’s funeral services, I made the comment that he was my hero,” Cory said. “And, hearing hundreds of people will be able to continue their life because of Stone makes him definitely.”
Now the family is sharing Stone’s story to serve as an example of how meaningful organ donation can be.
“I’m late 40s, and I step back and look, and Stone’s accomplished and touched more people in his 20 years than I have personally in 40-plus,” Cory said.