Comstock firefighter saves captain’s life with liver donation

Posted at 4:17 PM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 19:51:57-05

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. — When Dale Beauchamp went to the doctor office in November 2018 to check on his liver, he was told that it wasn’t doing well, he said. Doctors told him it was failing and that 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 “‘OK what do we do now.’”

That day they sent Dale 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 recalled. “So I contacted her and [said] ‘where do I sign up.’”

At that time in mid-December, McLiechey didn’t know if he was 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,” McLiechey 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 that his blood type was the same as Dale’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,’” McLiechey 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].”

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

After that, he told Dale.

“It’s emotional for sure,” McLiechey said about that 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.”

Doug 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 Dale’s body. After that, Doug's liver will begin to re-grow on its own.

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

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

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

***The Comstock Firefighters Association created a fundraiser to help both Doug and Dale with external costs that insurance won't cover. For more information on it, click here.***