Michigan firefighter saves captain’s life with liver donation

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. — When fire Capt. Dale Beauchamp went to the doctor's office in November 2018 to check on his liver, he was told that it wasn’t doing well. Doctors told him it was failing and that he needed a live liver transplant.

“My wife and I were kind of at a loss,” said Beauchamp, 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, doctors sent Beauchamp home with live liver transplant information, which he gave to his children, he said. His kids then turned the info into a flyer to seek donors. His daughter Nicole posted it on Facebook. That’s where Lt. Doug McLiechey, who worked with Beauchamp, 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 whether he was a 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 Beauchamp’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].”

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

After that, he told Beauchamp.

“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.”

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

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

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

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

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

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.