Shanae Bezusko

Parker Lewis maintained a well-rounded life by taking care of his daughter and engaging in religious activities throughout his community. Lewis was proud to serve for the United States Air Force, but retired shortly after receiving a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, just two years before his daughter Shanae Bezusko was born.

Shanae grew up understanding her father’s condition and the impact it would have for the both of them. Watching his days fill up with doctor appointments, becoming more fatigued, and seeing that he could no longer perform daily activities, Shanae’s sense of responsibility and deep love for her father led her to give a precious gift: a second chance at life.

“I was overjoyed. We both are O+, the rarest blood type and although we can donate to anyone, we can only accept from each other. So in my mind it was meant to be,” said Shanae.

In 2006, Parker Lewis received his kidney transplant from his daughter, prolonging his life for another seven years and freeing him from dialysis and other complications related to his diabetes. Throughout the experience, their father-daughter relationship strengthened as Shanae remained by his side. Though she was attending graduate school, she cared for her father by moving in, and preparing all his healthy meals.

Shanae’s kindness and determination truly speaks to her decision to provide her father with a second chance. “I refused to let him experience hemodialysis. That is not the quality of life I wanted for my father,” said Shanae. The transplant gave him an opportunity to walk, talk, and continue living life with Shanae.

Although Lewis passed away in 2013, having a new kidney gave him a quality of life, and additional years that he would not have if Shanae had not given him the gift of life. “It is also selfless, rewarding, and literally the gift that keeps on giving,” she said.

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