organ donation

Watsonville Boy's Generosity Continues After Death

NBC Universal, Inc.

Even in his young life, Aidan Nabor demonstrated a wide streak of generosity. There was the time the 11-year old donated $100 of his allowance to help a homeless man he'd seen around his favorite pizza joint. Then there was the time he emptied out his $600 savings to aid his Taekwando instructor, struggling under the pandemic.

So it was fitting that even in death, Nabor found a way to help people.

When the Watsonville boy died in June after becoming accidentally entangled in a rope swing while visiting his mother, his family agreed to donate his organs.

"Any fragments of him that were able to continue on in life," said his father Clint Nabor, "they were pieces of him that were continuing on."

Aidan's kidneys went to two Bay Area women to help them get off dialysis. And his cornea went to Houston, Texas, where it was transplanted in the left eye of 15-year-old Mackenzie Schnettler, who was suffering a bacterial infection that nearly left her visually impaired.

"I was nervous I was never going to see again," said Schnettler in a virtual interview from her home in Houston.

On Thursday, Schnettler met with up with the elder Nabor over a Zoom conference organized by Cornea Gen and Donor Network West which arranged Aidan's donation. For Nabor, it was a chance to look into the face of the girl his son had helped, and a chance for Schnettler to in turn thank him for that gift.

"He can’t be with us anymore," Nabor said in the Zoom call. "We would be grateful that there is a part of him that would continue on in life."

Nabor told Mackenzie that Aidan was an active soul; he learned to play the piano at age four and would write his own songs. He loved Taekwando and was sometimes tapped by his master to teach the younger kids. He loved to dance and play practical jokes.

"He was very animated with his facial expressions," Nabor laughed.

Last September, Schnettler began experiencing a cloudiness in her left eye that doctors initially diagnosed as pink eye. But as the condition persisted, an eye doctor realized it was a rare bacterial infection, likely brought on by contact lens solution. When she arrived at the hospital, doctors said if she'd waited a half hour longer, she would've lost the eye.

"As a mother, it was one of the hardest to watch her go through," said Mackenzie's mother Tiffany Warlick, "the pain she was in and of course losing her vision."

Since the transplant, Mackenzie has earned her driving permit and has been able to resume artistic painting, which she sells. Like Aidan, she also plays piano.

"There will never be a way to thank you," Warlick told Nabor in the call, "for giving her her vision back."

Nabor is not exactly sure what happened to his son -- he was playing alone when the rope swing accident happened. Somehow it became wrapped around his neck. Nabor said it occurred on a large rural property and took paramedics more than 20 minutes to arrive. He lingered in the hospital for nearly a week before he succumbed.

Nabor said he was confident had his son been in on the decision making, he would've readily agreed to donate his organs to help others. It was just his nature.

To Nabor, his organ donation was a gift that went two ways.

"Any small shreds of Aidan that are able to continue on in life," Nabor said, "that’s the gift to us."

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