By Gwen Edwards

My son, Quentin, was unstoppable. Even with health setbacks, he always held his head high, danced through the storm and kept a smile on his face.

Quentin was diagnosed at age 12 with Alport Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which damages the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys. He was diagnosed through a fluke – and it was found that other family members also carried the gene. Until Quentin was diagnosed, we had no idea of the familial connection.

As his uncles and cousin before him, Quentin’s disease progressed to the point where he needed a kidney transplant. Thankfully, my childhood friend stepped up to be his living donor, and at 20-years old, Quentin was given his life back! Just one-month after graduating from Baldwin Wallace College with his degree in Musical Theatre the transplant took place. Our family was beyond grateful for this gift – Quentin could plan his future.

Quentin performing as the Cat in the Pleasure Guild of Nationwide Children’s Hospital performance of “Honk”

After graduation, Quentin immersed himself in theater and dance. Doctors once said he may never be able to pursue his passion again. He moved to New York with the hope of becoming an actor.

Quentin chased his dream for years. Ten years after his transplant, in November 2010, his health began to decline again. He moved home to Ohio to be closer to family. Quentin was listed at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for a new kidney, and his second wait began.

While waiting, Quentin and I founded State of the Arts Productions. He was a firm believer theater should be available to everyone and that is what he set out to do. He had been dismayed at the lack of diversity in theater in Columbus and made the decision to cast non-traditional roles in his theater. Despite Quentin having a stroke on January 1, 2013, the first show went off without a hitch. His dream was coming true.

And our family’s dream was coming true when a complete stranger offered to give Quentin one of her kidneys! However, he was a very difficult match, so instead of a direct exchange, Quentin and his donor decided to do a paired donation – this means Quentin would receive a kidney from a total stranger and his donor would donate to a total stranger.

Unfortunately, Quentin never made it to his second transplant. Due to complications from his dialysis catheter, his final curtain call came July 5, 2014. Quentin was 35-years old when he died.

The story doesn’t end there, though. Quentin’s living donor went on to donate her kidney in a six-person chain. She did this in honor of Quentin on the two-month anniversary of his passing.

I now keep the theater company going for him. He was such a strong and passionate man. I wish the ending of the story was different for my son, but I am passionate about carrying out his dream – of both the theater and organ, eye and tissue donation. Won’t you please consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor in his name? Give hope to those waiting.


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