MAPLETON, Utah (ABC4 News) – The family of a 22-year-old man killed in a car accident last month is holding an organ donor registration drive on his birthday as a way to honor him, and encourage others to sign up to be donors.
Caleb Johnson passed away on May 30 and June 17 would have been his 23rd birthday. His family wanted a way to make his birthday about celebrating life as the family said he spent so much of his time serving others.
Caleb’s family found a way to turn their tragedy into something truly remarkable. After learning he would not make it, they asked if his liver could go to the mother of one of Caleb’s friends, which turned out to be a perfect match.
Caleb’s mom posted the story on Facebook which was then shared by Mapleton Police:
“Caleb became a friend to this cute boy, Cory, clear back in Jr. High. They formed a special relationship. While Caleb was on his mission, he reconnected with Cory and they wrote back and forth. Then when Caleb returned from his mission, he became a caretaker of Cory. A special bond was created over these years to never be severed.
Cory’s mother has been very ill the past little while and has needed a liver transplant. She has been on the donor waiting list, patiently waiting. Miracle…. Caleb and Cory’s mother were a perfect match and Caleb’s liver will live on in Jamie Peterson Derfler! Such a sweet miracle for both of our families! Jamie called me on her way to the hospital today and was so honored to receive this special gift. My prayers are with her and the doctors who will be performing this transfer that all will go well and she will be able to live a long healthy life.“
In a press release issued by Mapleton City Fire Department, they said Caleb grew up in Mapleton and graduated from Maple Mountain High School in 2015. Caleb got married less than a month ago and moved to Provo.
“As we learn more about Caleb it is obvious that he had a positive influence in this world. Attached is a picture of Caleb performing his special needs caretaker role with Corey Derfler. We offer our sincere condolences to Caleb’s family, friends, and all that he impacted during his life.”
Police said Caleb was traveling south into Mapleton on highway 89 when another car turned off 400 East onto highway 89 in front of his vehicle. Caleb swerved to miss impact which forced him into the oncoming lane where he hit an oncoming dump truck. Both Caleb’s vehicle and the dump trucks caught fire. Police said the driver that pulled in front of Caleb has been cooperating with police and the case will be screened with our prosecuting attorneys to determine if charges are appropriate.
Caleb saved lives through his decision to donate his organs, so his family wants to encourage others to sign up on the Utah Donor Registry. They will have a table set up to help people register and to answer questions at the Mapleton Police Department, 305 N Main St in Mapleton on Wednesday, June 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The Johnson family is also asking people to do an act of service on Wednesday and to share it on social media with the #CJServes.
To learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation or to sign up on the Utah Donor Registry, please go to www.yesutah.org. To register in honor of Caleb Johnson, select his name in the Event box on the registration form